Skip to main content

Full text of "Gospel Of Sri Ramakrishna, The Mahendranath Gupta"

See other formats



By Mahendranath Gupta ("M"), His Disciple 
Translated from the Bengali by Swami Nikhilananda 


by Aldous Huxley 

IN THE HISTORY of the arts, genius is a thing of very rare occurrence. Rarer still, however, 
are the competent reporters and recorders of that genius. The world has had many hundreds of 
admirable poets and philosophers; but of these hundreds only a very few have had the fortune to 
attract a Boswell or an Eckermann. 

When we leave the field of art for that of spiritual religion, the scarcity of competent 
reporters becomes even more strongly marked. Of the day-to-day life of the great theocentric 
saints and contemplatives we know, in the great majority of cases, nothing whatever. Many, it is 
true, have recorded their doctrines in writing, and a few, such as St. Augustine, Suso and St. 
Teresa, have left us autobiographies of the greatest value. But, all doctrinal writing is in some 
measure formal and impersonal, while the autobiographer tends to omit what he regards as 
trifling matters and suffers from the further disadvantage of being unable to say how he strikes 
other people and in what way he affects their lives. Moreover, most saints have left neither 
writings nor self-portraits, and for knowledge of their lives, their characters and their teachings, 
we are forced to rely upon the records made by their disciples who, in most cases, have proved 
themselves singularly incompetent as reporters and biographers. Hence the special interest 
attaching to this enormously detailed account of the daily life and conversations of Sri 

"M", as the author modestly styles himself, was peculiarly qualified for his task. To a 
reverent love for his master, to a deep and experiential knowledge of that master's teaching, he 
added a prodigious memory for the small happenings of each day and a happy gift for recording 
them in an interesting and realistic way. Making good use of his natural gifts and of the 
circumstances in which he found himself, "M" produced a book unique, so far as my knowledge 
goes, in the literature of hagiography. No other saint has had so able and indefatigable a Boswell. 
Never have the small events of a contemplative's daily life been described with such a wealth of 
intimate detail. Never have the casual and unstudied utterances of a great religious teacher been 
set down with so minute a fidelity. To Western readers, it is true, this fidelity and this wealth of 
detail are sometimes a trifle disconcerting; for the social, religious and intellectual frames of 
reference within which Sri Ramakrishna did his thinking and expressed his feelings were entirely 
Indian. But after the first few surprises and bewilderments, we begin to find something peculiarly 
stimulating and instructive about the very strangeness and, to our eyes, the eccentricity of the 
man revealed to us in "M's" narrative. What a scholastic philosopher would call the "accidents" of 
Ramakrishna's life were intensely Hindu and therefore, so far as we in the West are concerned, 

unfamiliar and hard to understand; its "essence", however, was intensely mystical and therefore 
universal. To read through these conversations in which mystical doctrine alternates with an 
unfamiliar kind of humour, and where discussions of the oddest aspects of Hindu mythology give 
place to the most profound and subtle utterances about the nature of Ultimate Reality, is in itself a 
liberal, education in humility, tolerance and suspense of judgment. We must be grateful to the 
translator for his excellent version of a book so curious and delightful as a biographical document, 
so precious, at the same time, for what it teaches us of the life of the spirit. 


by Swami Nikhilananda 

The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna is the English translation of the Sri Sri Ramakrishna 
Kathamrita, the conversations of Sri Ramakrishna with his disciples, devotees, and visitors, 
recorded by Mahendranath Gupta, who wrote the book under the pseudonym of "M." The 
conversations in Bengali fill five volumes, the first of which was published in 1897 and the last 
shortly after M.'s death in 1932. Sri Ramakrishna Math, Madras, has published in two volumes an 
English translation of selected chapters from the monumental Bengali work. I have consulted these 
while preparing my translation. 

M., one of the intimate disciples of Sri Ramakrishna, was present during all the 
conversations recorded in the main body of the book and noted them down in his diary. They 
therefore have the value of almost stenographic records. In Appendix A are given several 
conversations which took place in the absence of M., but of which he received a first-hand record 
from persons concerned. The conversations will bring before the reader's mind an intimate picture 
of the Master's eventful life from March 1882 to April 24, 1886, only a few months before his 
passing away. During this period he came in contact chiefly with English-educated Bengalis; from 
among them he selected his disciples and the bearers of his message, and with them he shared his 
rich spiritual experiences. 

I have made a literal translation, omitting only a few pages of no particular interest to 
English-speaking readers. Often literary grace has been sacrificed for the sake of literal translation. 
No translation can do full justice to the original. This difficulty is all the more felt in the present 
work, whose contents are of a deep mystical nature and describe the inner experiences of a great 
seer. Human language is an altogether inadequate vehicle to express supersensuous perception. 
Sri Ramakrishna was almost illiterate. He never clothed his thoughts in formal language. His 
words sought to convey his direct realization of Truth. His conversation was in a village patois. 
Therein lies its charm. In order to explain to his listeners an abstruse philosophy, he, like Christ 
before him, used with telling effect homely parables and illustrations, culled from his observation 
of the daily life around him. 

The reader will find mentioned in this work many visions and experiences that fall outside 
the ken of physical science and even psychology. With the development of modern knowledge the 
border line between the natural and the supernatural is ever shifting its position. Genuine mystical 
experiences are not as suspect now as they were half a century ago. The words of Sri Ramakrishna 

have already exerted a tremendous influence in the land of his birth. Savants of Europe have found 
in his words the ring of universal truth. 

But these words were not the product of intellectual cogitation; they were rooted in direct 
experience. Hence, to students of religion, psychology, and physical science, these experiences of 
the Master are of immense value for the understanding of religious phenomena in general. No 
doubt Sri Ramakrishna was a Hindu of the Hindus; yet his experiences transcended the limits of 
the dogmas and creeds of Hinduism. Mystics of religions other than Hinduism will find in Sri 
Ramakrishna's experiences a corroboration of the experiences of their own prophets and seers. 
And this is very important today for the resuscitation of religious values. The sceptical reader may 
pass by the supernatural experiences; he will yet find in the book enough material to provoke his 
serious thought and solve many of his spiritual problems. 

There are repetitions of teachings and parables in the book. I have kept them purposely. 
They have their charm and usefulness, repeated as they were in different settings. Repetition is 
unavoidable in a work of this kind. In the first place, different seekers come to a religious teacher 
with questions of more or less identical nature; hence the answers will be of more or less identical 
pattern. Besides, religious teachers of all times and climes have tried, by means of repetition, to 
hammer truths into the stony soil of the recalcitrant human mind. Finally, repetition does not 
seem tedious if the ideas repeated are dear to a man's heart. 

I have thought it necessary to write a rather lengthy Introduction to the book. In it I have 
given the biography of the Master, descriptions of people who came in contact with him, short 
explanations of several systems of Indian religious thought intimately connected with Sri 
Ramakrishna's life, and other relevant matters which, I hope, will enable the reader better to 
understand and appreciate the unusual contents of this book. It is particularly important that the 
Western reader, unacquainted with Hindu religious thought, should first read carefully the 
introductory chapter, in order that he may fully enjoy these conversations. Many Indian terms and 
names have been retained in the book for want of suitable English equivalents. Their meaning is 
given either in the Glossary or in the foot-notes. The Glossary also gives explanations of a number 
of expressions unfamiliar to Western readers. The diacritical marks are explained under Notes on 

In the Introduction I have drawn much material from the Life of Sri Ramakrishna, published 
by the Advaita Ashrama, Mayavati, India. I have also consulted the excellent article on Sri 
Ramakrishna by Swami Nirvedananda, in the second volume of the Cultural Heritage of India. 

The book contains many songs sung either by the Master or by the devotees. These form an 
important feature of the spiritual tradition of Bengal and were for the most part written by men of 
mystical experience. For giving the songs their present form I am grateful to Mr. John Moffitt, Jr. 

In the preparation of this manuscript I have received ungrudging help from several friends. 
Miss Margaret Woodrow Wilson and Mr. Joseph Campbell have worked hard in editing my 
translation. Mrs. Elizabeth Davidson has typed, more than once, the entire manuscript and 
rendered other valuable help. Mr. Aldous Huxley has laid me under a debt of gratitude by writing 
the Foreword. I sincerely thank them all. 

In the spiritual firmament Sri Ramakrishna is a waxing crescent. Within one hundred years 
of his birth and fifty years of his death his message has spread across land and sea. Romain Rolland 
has described him as the fulfilment of the spiritual aspirations of the three hundred millions of 
Hindus for the last two thousand years. Mahatma Gandhi has written: "His life enables us to see 
God face to face. . . . Ramakrishna was a living embodiment of godliness." He is being 
recognized as a compeer of Krishna, Buddha, and Christ. 

The life and teachings of Sri Ramakrishna have redirected the thoughts of the 
denationalized Hindus to the spiritual ideals of their forefathers. During the latter part of the 
nineteenth century his was the time-honoured role of the Saviour of the Eternal Religion of the 
Hindus. His teachings played an important part in liberalizing the minds of orthodox pundits and 
hermits. Even now he is the silent force that is moulding the spiritual destiny of India. His great 
disciple, Swami Vivekananda, was the first Hindu missionary to preach the message of Indian 
culture to the enlightened minds of Europe and America. The full consequence of Swami 
Vivekananda work is still in the womb of the future. 

May this translation of the first book of its kind in the religious history of the world, being 
the record of the direct words of a prophet, help stricken humanity to come nearer to the Eternal 
Verity of life and remove dissension and quarrel from among the different faiths! May it enable 
seekers of Truth to grasp the subtle laws of the supersensuous realm, and unfold before man's 
restricted vision the spiritual foundation of the universe, the unity of existence, and the divinity of 
the soul! 

-Swami Nikhilananda 

New York Sri Ramakrishna's Birthday February 1942 


In the life of the great Saviours and Prophets of the world it is often found that they are 
accompanied by souls of high spiritual potency who play a conspicuous part in the furtherance of 
their Master's mission. They become so integral a part of the life and work of these great ones that 
posterity can think of them only in mutual association. Such is the case with Sri Ramakrishna and 
M., whose diary has come to be known to the world as the Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna in English 
and as Sri Ramakrishna Kathamrita in the original Bengali version. 

Sri Mahendra Nath Gupta, familiary known to the readers of the Gospel by his pen name 
M., and to the devotees as Master Mahashay, was born on the 14th of July, 1854 as the son of 
Madhusudan Gupta, an officer of the Calcutta High Court, and his wife, Swarnamayi Devi. He had a 
brilliant scholastic career at Hare School and the Presidency College at Calcutta. The range of his 
studies included the best that both occidental and oriental learning had to offer. English literature, 
history, economics, western philosophy and law on the one hand, and Sanskrit literature and 
grammar, Darsanas, Puranas, Smritis, Jainism, Buddhism, astrology and Ayurveda on the other 
were the subjects in which he attained considerable proficiency. 

He was an educationist all his life both in a spiritual and in a secular sense. After he passed 
out of College, he took up work as headmaster in a number of schools in succession Narail High 

School, City School, Ripon College School, Metropolitan School, Aryan School, Oriental School, 
Oriental Seminary and Model School. The causes of his migration from school to school were that 
he could not get on with some of the managements on grounds of principles and that often his 
spiritual mood drew him away to places of pilgrimage for long periods. He worked with some of 
the most noted public men of the time like Iswar Chandra Vidyasagar and Surendranath Banerjee. 
The latter appointed him as a professor in the City and Ripon Colleges where he taught subjects 
like English, philosophy, history and economics. In his later days he took over the Morton School, 
and he spent his time in the staircase room of the third floor of it, administering the school and 
preaching the message of the Master. He was much respected in educational circles where he was 
usually referred to as Rector Mahashay. A teacher who had worked under him writes thus in warm 
appreciation of his teaching methods: "Only when I worked with him in school could I appreciate 
what a great educationist he was. He would come down to the level of his students when teaching, 
though he himself was so learned, so talented. Ordinarily teachers confine their instruction to 
what is given in books without much thought as to whether the student can accept it or not. But 
M., would first of all gauge how much the student could take in and by what means. He would 
employ aids to teaching like maps, pictures and diagrams, so that his students could learn by 
seeing. Thirty years ago (from 1953) when the question of imparting education through the 
medium of the mother tongue was being discussed, M. had already employed Bengali as the 
medium of instruction in the Morton School." (M The Apostle and the Evangelist by Swami 
Nityatmananda Part I. P. 15.) 

Imparting secular education was, however, only his profession ; his main concern was with 
the spiritual regeneration of man a calling for which Destiny seems to have chosen him. From his 
childhood he was deeply pious, and he used to be moved very much by Sadhus, temples and Durga 
Puja celebrations. The piety and eloquence of the great Brahmo leader of the times, Keshab 
Chander Sen, elicited a powerful response from the impressionable mind of Mahendra Nath, as it 
did in the case of many an idealistic young man of Calcutta, and prepared him to receive the great 
Light that was to dawn on him with the coming of Sri Ramakrishna into his life. 

This epoch-making event of his life came about in a very strange way. M. belonged to a joint 
family with several collateral members. Some ten years after he began his career as an 
educationist, bitter quarrels broke out among the members of the family, driving the sensitive M. 
to despair and utter despondency. He lost all interest in life and left home one night to go into the 
wide world with the idea of ending his life. At dead of night he took rest in his sister's house at 
Baranagar, and in the morning, accompanied by a nephew Siddheswar, he wandered from one 
garden to another in Calcutta until Siddheswar brought him to the Temple Garden of 
Dakshineswar where Sri Ramakrishna was then living. After spending some time in the beautiful 
rose gardens there, he was directed to the room of the Paramahamsa, where the eventful meeting 
of the Master and the disciple took place on a blessed evening (the exact date is not on record) on 
a Sunday in March 1882. As regards what took place on the occasion, the reader is referred to the 
opening section of the first chapter of the Gospel. 

The Master, who divined the mood of desperation in M, his resolve to take leave of this 
'play-field of deception', put new faith and hope into him by his gracious words of assurance: "God 
forbid! Why should you take leave of this world? Do you not feel blessed by discovering your 

Guru? By His grace, what is beyond all imagination or dreams can be easily achieved!" At these 
words the clouds of despair moved away from the horizon of M.'s mind, and the sunshine of a new 
hope revealed to him fresh vistas of meaning in life. Referring to this phase of his life, M. used to 
say, "Behold! where is the resolve to end life, and where, the discovery of God! That is, sorrow 
should be looked upon as a friend of man. God is all good." (Ibid P. 33.) 

After this resettlement, M's life revolved around the Master, though he continued his 
professional work as an educationist. During all holidays, including Sundays, he spent his time at 
Dakshineswar in the Master's company, and at times extended his stay to several days. 

It did not take much time for M. to become very intimate with the Master, or for the Master 
to recognise in this disciple a divinely commissioned partner in the fulfilment of his spiritual 
mission. When M. was reading out the Chaitanya Bhagavata, the Master discovered that he had 
been, in a previous birth, a disciple and companion of the great Vaishnava Teacher, Sri Chaitanya 
Mahaprabhu, and the Master even saw him 'with his naked eye' participating in the ecstatic 
mass-singing of the Lord's name under the leadership of that Divine personality. So the Master 
told M, "You are my own, of the same substance as the father and the son," indicating thereby 
that M was one of the chosen few and a part and parcel of his Divine mission. 

There was an urge in M. to abandon the household life and become a Sannyasin. When he 
communicated this idea to the Master, he forbade him saying," Mother has told me that you have 
to do a little of Her work you will have to teach Bhagavata, the word of God to humanity. The 
Mother keeps a Bhagavata Pandit with a bondage in the world!" (Ibid P. 36.) 

An appropriate allusion indeed! Bhagavata, the great scripture that has given the word of 
Sri Krishna to mankind, was composed by the Sage Vyasa under similar circumstances. When 
caught up in a mood of depression like that of M, Vyasa was advised by the sage Narada that he 
would gain peace of mind only qn composing a work exclusively devoted to the depiction of the 
Lord's glorious attributes and His teachings on Knowledge and Devotion, and the result was that 
the world got from Vyasa the invaluable gift of the Bhagavata Purana depicting the life and 
teachings of Sri Krishna. From the mental depression of the modem Vyasa, the world has obtained 
the Kathamrita (Bengali Edition) the Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna in English. 

Sri Ramakrishna was a teacher for both the Orders of mankind, Sannyasins and 
householders. His own life offered an ideal example for both, and he left behind disciples who 
followed the highest traditions he had set in respect of both these ways of life. M., along with Nag 
Mahashay, exemplified how a householder can rise to the highest level of sagehood. M. was 
married to Nikunja Devi, a distant relative of Keshab Chander Sen, even when he was reading at 
College, and he had four children, two sons and two daughters. The responsibility of the family, no 
doubt, made him dependent on his professional income, but the great devotee that he was, he 
never compromised with ideals and principles for this reason. Once when he was working as the 
headmaster in a school managed by the great Vidyasagar, the results of the school at the public 
examination happened to be rather poor, and Vidyasagar attributed it to M's preoccupation with 
the Master and his consequent failure to attend adequately to the school work. M. at once 
resigned his post without any thought of the morrow. Within a fortnight the family was in poverty, 

and M. was one day pacing up and down the verandah of his house, musing how he would feed his 
children the next day. Just then a man came with a letter addressed to 'Mahendra Babu', and on 
opening it, M. found that it was a letter from his friend Sri Surendra Nath Banerjee, asking whether 
he would like to take up a professorship in the Ripon College. In this way three or four times he 
gave up the job that gave him the wherewithal to support the family, either for upholding 
principles or for practising spiritual Sadhanas in holy places, without any consideration of the 
possible dire worldly consequences; but he was always able to get over these difficulties 
somehow, and the interests of his family never suffered. In spite of his disregard for worldly goods, 
he was, towards the latter part of his life, in a fairly flourishing condition as the proprietor of the 
Morton School which he developed into a noted educational institution in the city. The Lord has 
said in the Bhagavad Gita that in the case of those who think of nothing except Him, He Himself 
would take up all their material and spiritual responsibilities. M. was an example of the truth of the 
Lord's promise. 

Though his children received proper attention from him, his real family, both during the 
Master's life-time and after, consisted of saints, devotees, Sannyasins and spiritual aspirants. His 
life exemplifies the Master's teaching that an ideal householder must be like a good maid-servant 
of a family, loving and caring properly for the children of the house, but knowing always that her 
real home and children are elsewhere. During the Master's life-time he spent all his Sundays and 
other holidays with him and his devotees, and besides listening to the holy talks and devotional 
music, practised meditation both on the Personal and the Impersonal aspects of God under the 
direct guidance of the Master. In the pages of the Gospel the reader gets a picture of M.'s spiritual 
relationship with the Master how from a hazy belief in the Impersonal God of the Brahmos, he was 
step by step brought to accept both Personality and Impersonality as the two aspects of the same 
Non-dual Being, how he was convinced of the manifestation of that Being as Gods, Goddesses and 
as Incarnations, and how he was established in a life that was both of a Jnani and of a Bhakta. This 
Jnani-Bhakta outlook and way of living became so dominant a feature of his life that Swami 
Raghavananda, who was very closely associated with him during his last six years, remarks: 
"Among those who lived with M. in latter days, some felt that he always lived in this constant and 
conscious union with God even with open eyes (i.e., even in waking consciousness)." (Swami 
Raghavananda's article on M. in Prabuddha Bharata vol. XXXVII. P. 442.) 

Besides undergoing spiritual disciplines at the feet of the Master, M. used to go to holy 
places during the Master's life-time itself and afterwards too as a part of his Sadhana. He was one 
of the earliest of the disciples to visit Kamarpukur, the birthplace of the Master, in the latter's 
life-time itself; for he wished to practise contemplation on the Master's early life in its true original 
setting. His experience there is described as follows by Swami Nityatmananda: "By the grace of the 
Master, he saw the entire Kamarpukur as a holy place bathed in an effulgent Light. Trees and 
creepers, beasts and birds and men all were made of effulgence. So he prostrated to all on the 
road. He saw a torn cat, which appeared to him luminous with the Light of Consciousness. 
Immediately he fell to the ground and saluted it" (M The Apostle and the Evangelist by Swami 
Nityatmananda vol. I. P. 40.) He had similar experience in Dakshineswar also. At the instance of the 
Master he also visited Puri, and in the words of Swami Nityatmananda, "with indomitable courage, 
M. embraced the image of Jagannath out of season." 

The life of Sadhana and holy association that he started on at the feet of the Master, he 
continued all through his life. He has for this reason been most appropriately described as a 
Grihastha-Sannyasi (householder-Sannyasin). Though he was forbidden by the Master to become a 
Sannyasin, his reverence for the Sannyasa ideal was whole-hearted and was without any 
reservation. So after Sri Ramakrishna's passing away, while several of the Master's householder 
devotees considered the young Sannyasin disciples of the Master as inexperienced and 
inconsequential, M. stood by them with the firm faith that the Master's life and message were 
going to be perpetuated only through them. Swami Vivekananda wrote from America in a letter to 
the inmates of the Math: "When Sri Thakur (Master) left the body, every one gave us up as a few 
unripe urchins. But M. and a few others did not leave us in the lurch. We cannot repay our debt to 
them." (Swami Raghavananda's article on M. in Prabuddha Bharata vol. XXX P. 442.) 

M. spent his weekends and holidays with the monastic brethren who, after the Master's 
demise, had formed themselves into an Order with a Math at Baranagore, and participated in the 
intense life of devotion and meditation that they followed. At other times he would retire to 
Dakshineswar or some garden in the city and spend several days in spiritual practice taking simple 
self-cooked food. In order to feel that he was one with all mankind he often used to go out of his 
home at dead of night, and like a wandering Sannyasin, sleep with the waifs on some open 
verandah or footpath on the road. 

After the Master's demise, M. went on pilgrimage several times. He visited Banaras, 
Vrindavan, Ayodhya and other places. At Banaras he visited the famous Trailinga Swami and fed 
him with sweets, and he had long conversations with Swami Bhaskarananda, one of the noted 
saintly and scholarly Sannyasins of the time. In 1912 he went with the Holy Mother to Banaras, 
and spent about a year in the company of Sannyasins at Banaras, Vrindavan, Hardwar, Hrishikesh 
and Swargashram. But he returned to Calcutta, as that city offered him the unique opportunity of 
associating himself with the places hallowed by the Master in his life-time. Afterwards he does not 
seem to have gone to any far-off place, but stayed on in his room in the Morton School carrying on 
his spiritual ministry, speaking on the Master and his teachings to the large number of people who 
flocked to him after having read his famous Kathamrita known to English readers as The Gospel of 
Sri Ramakrishna. 

This brings us to the circumstances that led to the writing and publication of this 
monumental work, which has made M. one of the immortals in hagiographic literature. While 
many educated people heard Sri Ramakrishna's talks, it was given to this illustrious personage 
alone to leave a graphic and exact account of them for posterity, with details like date, hour, place, 
names and particulars about participants. Humanity owes this great book to the ingrained habit of 
diary-keeping with which M. was endowed. Even as a boy of about thirteen, while he was a 
student in the 3rd class of the Hare School, he was in the habit of keeping a diary. "Today on 
rising," he wrote in his diary, "I greeted my father and mother, prostrating on the ground before 
them" (Swami Nityatmananda's 'M The Apostle and the Evangelist' Part I. P 29.) At another place 
he wrote, "Today, while on my way to school, I visited, as usual, the temples of Kali, the Mother at 
Tharitharia, and of Mother Sitala, and paid my obeisance to them." About twenty-five years after, 
when he met the Great Master in the spring of 1882, it was the same instinct of a born diary-writer 
that made him begin his book, 'unique in the literature of hagiography', with the memorable 

words: "When hearing the name of Hari or Rama once, you shed tears and your hair stands on 
end, then you may know for certain that you do not have to perform devotions such as Sandhya 
any more." 

In addition to this instinct for diary-keeping, M. had great endowments contributing to 
success in this line. Writes Swami Nityatmananda who lived in close association with M., in his 
book entitled M - The Apostle and Evangelist: "M.'s prodigious memory combined with his 
extraordinary power of imagination completely annihilated the distance of time and place for him. 
Even after the lapse of half a century he could always visualise vividly, scenes from the life of Sri 
Ramakrishna. Superb too was his power to portray pictures by words." 

Besides the prompting of his inherent instinct, the main inducement for M. to keep this 
diary of his experiences at Dakshineswar was his desire to provide himself with a means for living 
in holy company at all times. Being a school teacher, he could be with the Master only on Sundays 
and other holidays, and it was on his diary that he depended for 'holy company' on other days. The 
devotional scriptures like the Bhagavata say that holy company is the first and most important 
means for the generation and growth of devotion. For, in such company man could hear talks on 
spiritual matters and listen to the glorification of Divine attributes, charged with the fervour and 
conviction emanating from the hearts of great lovers of God. Such company is therefore the one 
certain means through which Sraddha (Faith), Rati (attachment to God) and Bhakti (loving 
devotion) are generated. The diary of his visits to Dakshineswar provided M. with material for re- 
living, through reading and contemplation, the holy company he had had earlier, even on days 
when he was not able to visit Dakshineswar. The wealth of details and the vivid description of men 
and things in the midst of which the sublime conversations are set, provide excellent material to 
re-live those experiences for any one with imaginative powers. It was observed by M.'s disciples 
and admirers that in later life also whenever he was free or alone, he would be pouring over his 
diary, transporting himself on the wings of imagination to the glorious days he spent at the feet of 
the Master. 

During the Master's life-time M. does not seem to have revealed the contents of his diary to 
any one. There is an unconfirmed tradition that when the Master saw him taking notes, he 
expressed apprehension at the possibility of his utilising these to publicise him like Keshab Sen; for 
the Great Master was so full of the spirit of renunciation and humility that he disliked being 
lionised. It must be for this reason that no one knew about this precious diary of M. for a decade 
until he brought out selections from it as a pamphlet in English in 1897 with the Holy Mother's 
blessings and permission. The Holy Mother, being very much pleased to hear parts of the diary 
read to her in Bengali, wrote to M.: "When I heard the Kathamrita, (Bengali name of the book) I 
felt as if it was he, the Master, who was saying all that." (Ibid Part I. P 37.) 

The two pamphlets in English entitled the Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna appeared in October 
and November 1897. They drew the spontaneous acclamation of Swami Vivekananda, who wrote 
on 24th November of that year from Dehra Dun to M. : "Many many thanks for your second 
leaflet. It is indeed wonderful. The move is quite original, and never was the life of a Great Teacher 
brought before the public untarnished by the writer's mind, as you are doing. The language also is 
beyond all praise, so fresh, so pointed, and withal so plain and easy. I cannot express in adequate 

terms how I have enjoyed them. I am really in a transport when I read them. Strange, isn't it? Our 
Teacher and Lord was so original, and each one of us will have to be original or nothing. I now 
understand why none of us attempted His life before. It has been reserved for you, this great 
work. He is with you evidently." (Vedanta Kesari Vol. XIX P. 141. Also given in the first edition of 
the Gospel published from Ramakrishna Math, Madras in 1911.) 

And Swamiji added a post script to the letter: "Socratic dialogues are Plato all over you are 
entirely hidden. Moreover, the dramatic part is infinitely beautiful. Everybody likes it here or in the 
West." Indeed, in order to be unknown, Mahendranath had used the pen-name M., under which 
the book has been appearing till now. But so great a book cannot remain obscure for long, nor can 
its author remain unrecognised by the large public in these modern times. M. and his book came 
to be widely known very soon and to meet the growing demand, a full-sized book, Vol. I of the 
Gospel, translated by the author himself, was published in 1907 by the Brahmavadin Office, 
Madras. A second edition of it, revised by the author, was brought out by the Ramakrishna Math, 
Madras in December 1911, and subsequently a second part, containing new chapters from the 
original Bengali, was published by the same Math in 1922. The full English translation of the Gospel 
by Swami Nikhilananda appeared first in 1942. 

In Bengali the book is published in five volumes, the first part having appeared in 1902 and 
the others in 1905, 1907, 1910 and 1932 respectively. 

It looks as if M. was brought to the world by the Great Master to record his words and 
transmit them to posterity. Swami Sivananda, a direct disciple of the Master and the second 
President of the Ramakrishna Math and Mission, says on this topic: "Whenever there was an 
interesting talk, the Master would call Master Mahashay if he was not in the room, and then draw 
his attention to the holy words spoken. We did not know then why the Master did so. Now we can 
realise that this action of the Master had an important significance, for it was reserved for Master 
Mahashay to give to the world at large the sayings of the Master." (Vedanta Kesari Vol. XIX P 141.) 
Thanks to M., we get, unlike in the case of the great teachers of the past, a faithful record with 
date, time, exact report of conversations, description of concerned men and places, references to 
contemporary events and personalities and a hundred other details for the last four years of the 
Master's life (1882-'86), so that no one can doubt the historicity of the Master and his teachings at 
any time in the future. 

M. was, in every respect, a true missionary of Sri Ramakrishna right from his first 
acquaintance with him in 1882. As a school teacher, it was a practice with him to direct to the 
Master such of his students as had a true spiritual disposition. Though himself prohibited by the 
Master to take to monastic life, he encouraged all spiritually inclined young men he came across in 
his later life to join the monastic Order. Swami Vijnanananda, a direct Sannyasin disciple of the 
Master and a President of the Ramakrishna Order, once remarked to M.: "By enquiry, I have come 
to the conclusion that eighty percent and more of the Sannyasins have embraced the monastic life 
after reading the Kathamrita (Bengali name of the book) and coming in contact with you." (M The 
Apostle and the Evangelist by Swami Nityatmananda Part I, P 37.) 

In 1905 he retired from the active life of a Professor and devoted his remaining 
twenty-seven years exclusively to the preaching of the life and message of the Great Master. He 
bought the Morton Institution from its original proprietors and shifted it to a commodious 
four-storeyed house at 50 Amherst Street, where it flourished under his management as one of 
the most efficient educational institutions in Calcutta. He generally occupied a staircase room at 
the top of it, cooking his own meal which consisted only of milk and rice without variation, and 
attended to all his personal needs himself. His dress also was the simplest possible. It was his 
conviction that limitation of personal wants to the minimum is an important aid to holy living. 
About one hour in the morning he would spend in inspecting the classes of the school, and then 
retire to his staircase room to pour over his diary and live in the divine atmosphere of the earthly 
days of the Great Master, unless devotees and admirers had already gathered in his room seeking 
his holy company. 

In appearance, M. looked a Vedic Rishi. Tall and stately in bearing, he had a strong and 
well-built body, an unusually broad chest, high forehead and arms extending to the knees. His 
complexion was fair and his prominent eyes were always tinged with the expression of the divine 
love that filled his heart. Adorned with a silvery beard that flowed luxuriantly down his chest, and 
a shining face radiating the serenity and gravity of holiness, M. was as imposing and majestic as he 
was handsome and engaging in appearance. Humorous, sweet-tongued and eloquent when 
situations required, this great Maharishi of our age lived only to sing the glory of Sri Ramakrishna 
day and night. Though a very well versed scholar in the Upanishads, Gita and the philosophies of 
the East and the West, all his discussions and teachings found their culmination in the life and the 
message of Sri Ramakrishna, in which he found the real explanation and illustration of all the 
scriptures. Both consciously and unconsciously, he was the teacher of the Kathamrita the 
nectarine words of the Great Master. 

Though a much-sought-after spiritual guide, an educationist of repute, and a contemporary 
and close associate of illustrious personages like Sri Ramakrishna, Swami Vivekananda, Keshab 
Chander Sen and Iswar Chander Vidyasagar, he was always moved by the noble humanity of a 
lover of God, which consists in respecting the personalities of all as receptacles of the Divine Spirit. 
So he taught without the consciousness of a teacher, and no bar of superiority stood in the way of 
his doing the humblest service to his students and devotees. "He was a commission of love," writes 
his close devotee, Swami Raghavananda, "and yet his soft and sweet words would pierce the 
stoniest heart, make the worldly-minded weep and repent and turn Godwards." (Prabuddha 
Bharata Vol. XXXVII P 499.) 

As time went on and the number of devotees increased, the staircase room and terrace of 
the 3rd floor of the Morton Institution became a veritable Naimisaranya of modern times, 
resounding during all hours of the day, and sometimes of night, too, with the word of God coming 
from the Rishi-like face of M. addressed to the eager God-seekers sitting around. To the devotees 
who helped him in preparing the text of the Gospel, he would dictate the conversations of the 
Master in a meditative mood, referring now and then to his diary. At times in the stillness of 
midnight he would awaken a nearby devotee and tell him: "Let us listen to the words of the 
Master in the depths of the night as he explains the truth of the Pranava." (Vedanta Kesari XIX P. 
142.) Swami Raghavananda, an intimate devotee of M., writes as follows about these devotional 

sittings: "In the sweet and warm months of April and May, sitting under the canopy of heaven on 
the roof-garden of 50 Amherst Street, surrounded by shrubs and plants, himself sitting in their 
midst like a Rishi of old, the stars and planets in their courses beckoning us to things infinite and 
sublime, he would speak to us of the mysteries of God and His love and of the yearning that would 
rise in the human heart to solve the Eternal Riddle, as exemplified in the life of his Master. The 
mind, melting under the influence of his soft sweet words of light, would almost transcend the 
frontiers of limited existence and dare to peep into the infinite. He himself would take the 
influence of the setting and say,'What a blessed privilege it is to sit in such a setting (pointing to 
the starry heavens), in the company of the devotees discoursing on God and His love!' These 
unforgettable scenes will long remain imprinted on the minds of his hearers." (Prabuddha Bharata 
Vol XXXVII P 497.) 

About twenty-seven years of his life he spent in this way in the heart of the great city of 
Calcutta, radiating the Master's thoughts and ideals to countless devotees who flocked to him, and 
to still larger numbers who read his Kathamrita (English Edition : The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna), 
the last part of which he had completed before June 1932 and given to the press. And 
miraculously, as it were, his end also came immediately after he had completed his life's mission. 
About three months earlier he had come to stay at his home at 13/2 Gurdasprasad Chaudhuary 
Lane at Thakur Bari, where the Holy Mother had herself installed the Master and where His regular 
worship was being conducted for the previous 40 years. The night of 3rd June being the 
Phalaharini Kali Pooja day, M. had sent his devotees who used to keep company with him, to 
attend the special worship at Belur Math at night. After attending the service at the home shrine, 
he went through the proof of the Kathamrita for an hour. Suddenly he got a severe attack of 
neuralgic pain, from which he had been suffering now and then, of late. Before 6 a.m. in the 
early hours of 4th June 1932 he passed away, fully conscious and chanting: 'Gurudeva-Ma, Kole 
tule na-o (Take me in your arms! Master! Mother!!)' 


Sri Ramakrishna Math, Madras March 1974. 


by Swami Nikhilananda 

Sri Ramakrishna, the God-man of modern India, was born at Kamarpukur. This village in the 
Hooghly District preserved during the last century the idyllic simplicity of the rural areas of Bengal. 
Situated far from the railway, it was untouched by the glamour of the city. It contained rice-fields, 
tall palms, royal banyans, a few lakes, and two cremation grounds. South of the village a stream 
took its leisurely course. A mango orchard dedicated by a neighbouring zamindar to the public use 
was frequented by the boys for their noonday sports. A highway passed through the village to the 
great temple of Jagannath at Puri, and the villagers, most of whom were farmers and craftsmen, 
entertained many passing holy men and pilgrims. The dull round of the rural life was broken by 
lively festivals, the observance of sacred days, religious singing, and other innocent pleasures. 

About his parents Sri Ramakrishna once said: "My mother was the personification of 
rectitude and gentleness. She did not know much about the ways of the world; innocent of the art 
of concealment, she would say what was in her mind. People loved her for open-heartedness. My 
father, an orthodox brahmin, never accepted gifts from the Sudras. He spent much of his time in 
worship and meditation, and in repeating God's name and chanting His glories. Whenever in his 
daily prayers he invoked the Goddess Gayatri, his chest flushed and tears rolled down his cheeks. 
He spent his leisure hours making garlands for the Family Deity, Raghuvir." 

Khudiram Chattopadhyaya and Chandra Devi, the parents of Sri Ramakrishna, were married 
in 1799. At that time Khudiram was living in his ancestral village of Derepore, not far from 
Kamarpukur. Their first son, Ramkumar, was born in 1805, and their first daughter, Katyayani, in 
1810. In 1814 Khudiram was ordered by his landlord to bear false witness in court against a 
neighbour. When he refused to do so, the landlord brought a false case against him and deprived 
him of his ancestral property. Thus dispossessed, he arrived, at the invitation of another landlord, 
in the quiet village of Kamarpukur, where he was given a dwelling and about an acre of fertile land. 
The crops from this little property were enough to meet his family's simple needs. Here he lived in 
simplicity, dignity, and contentment. 

Ten years after his coming to Kamarpukur, Khudiram made a pilgrimage on foot to 
Rameswar, at the southern extremity of India. Two years later was born his second son, whom he 
named Rameswar. Again in 1835, at the age of sixty, he made a pilgrimage, this time to Gaya. 
Here, from ancient times, Hindus have come from the four corners of India to discharge their 
duties to their departed ancestors by offering them food and drink at the sacred footprint of the 
Lord Vishnu. At this holy place Khudiram had a dream in which the Lord Vishnu promised to be 
born as his son. And Chandra Devi, too, in front of the Siva temple at Kamarpukur, had a vision 
indicating the birth of a divine child. Upon his return the husband found that she had conceived. 

It was on February 18, 1836, that the child, to be known afterwards as Ramakrishna, was 
born. In memory of the dream at Gaya he was given the name of Gadadhar, the "Bearer of the 
Mace", an epithet of Vishnu. Three years later a little sister was born. 


Gadadhar grew up into a healthy and restless boy, full of fun and sweet mischief. He was 
intelligent and precocious and endowed with a prodigious memory. On his father's lap he learnt by 
heart the names of his ancestors and the hymns to the gods and goddesses, and at the village 
school he was taught to read and write. But his greatest delight was to listen to recitations of 
stories from Hindu mythology and the epics. These he would afterwards recount from memory, to 
the great joy of the villagers. Painting he enjoyed; the art of moulding images of the gods and 
goddesses he learnt from the potters. But arithmetic was his great aversion. 

At the age of six or seven Gadadhar had his first experience of spiritual ecstasy. One day in 
June or July, when he was walking along a narrow path between paddy-fields, eating the puffed 
rice that he carried in a basket, he looked up at the sky and saw a beautiful, dark thunder-cloud. As 
it spread, rapidly enveloping the whole sky, a flight of snow-white cranes passed in front of it. The 
beauty of the contrast overwhelmed the boy. He fell to the ground, unconscious, and the puffed 

rice went in all directions. Some villagers found him and carried him home in their arms. Gadadhar 
said later that in that state he had experienced an indescribable joy. 

Gadadhar was seven years old when his father died. This incident profoundly affected him. 
For the first time the boy realized that life on earth was impermanent. Unobserved by others, he 
began to slip into the mango orchard or into one of the cremation grounds, and he spent hours 
absorbed in his own thoughts. He also became more helpful to his mother in the discharge of her 
household duties. He gave more attention to reading and hearing the religious stories recorded in 
the Puranas. And he became interested in the wandering monks and pious pilgrims who would 
stop at Kamarpukur on their way to Puri. These holy men, the custodians of India's spiritual 
heritage and the living witnesses of the ideal of renunciation of the world and all-absorbing love of 
God, entertained the little boy with stories from the Hindu epics, stories of saints and prophets, 
and also stories of their own adventures. He, on his part, fetched their water and fuel and served 
them in various ways. Meanwhile, he was observing their meditation and worship. 

At the age of nine, Gadadhar was invested with the Sacred Thread. This ceremony 
conferred upon him the privileges of his brahmin lineage, including the worship of the Family 
Deity, Raghuvir, and imposed upon him the many strict disciplines of a brahmin's life. During the 
ceremony of investiture he shocked his relatives by accepting a meal cooked by his nurse, a Sudra 
woman. His father would never have dreamt of doing such a thing. But in a playful mood Gadadhar 
had once promised this woman that he would eat her food, and now he fulfilled his plighted word. 
The woman had piety and religious sincerity, and these were more important to the boy than the 
conventions of society. 

Gadadhar was now permitted to worship Raghuvir. Thus began his first training in 
meditation. He so gave his heart and soul to the worship that the stone image very soon appeared 
to him as the living Lord of the Universe. His tendency to lose himself in contemplation was first 
noticed at this time. Behind his boyish light-heartedness was seen a deepening of his spiritual 

About this time, on the Sivaratri night, consecrated to the worship of Siva, a dramatic 
performance was arranged. The principal actor, who was to play the part of Siva, suddenly fell ill, 
and Gadadhar was persuaded to act in his place. While friends were dressing him for the role of 
Siva - smearing his body with ashes, matting his locks, placing a trident in his hand and a string of 
rudrakasa beads around his neck - the boy appeared to become absent-minded. He approached 
the stage with slow and measured step, supported by his friends. He looked the living image of 
Siva. The audience loudly applauded what it took to be his skill as an actor, but it was soon 
discovered that he was really lost in meditation. His countenance was radiant and tears flowed 
from his eyes. He was lost to the outer world. The effect of this scene on the audience was 
tremendous. The people felt blessed as by a vision of Siva Himself. The performance had to be 
stopped, and the boy's mood lasted till the following morning. 

Gadadhar himself now organized a dramatic company with his young friends. The stage was 
set in the mango orchard. The themes were selected from the stories of the Ramayana and the 
Mahabharata. Gadadhar knew by heart almost all the roles, having heard them from professional 

actors. His favourite theme was the Vrindavan episode of Krishna's life, depicting those exquisite 
love-stories of Krishna and the milkmaids and the cowherd boys. Gadadhar would play the parts of 
Radha or Krishna and would often lose himself in the character he was portraying. His natural 
feminine grace heightened the dramatic effect. The mango orchard would ring with the loud kirtan 
of the boys. Lost in song and merry-making, Gadadhar became indifferent to the routine of school. 

In 1849 Ramkumar, the eldest son, went to Calcutta to improve the financial condition of 
the family. Gadadhar was on the threshold of youth. He had become the pet of the women of the 
village. They loved to hear him talk, sing, or recite from the holy books. They enjoyed his knack of 
imitating voices. Their woman's instinct recognized the innate purity and guilelessness of this boy 
of clear skin, flowing hair, beaming eyes, smiling face, and inexhaustible fun. The pious elderly 
women looked upon him as Gopala, the Baby Krishna, and the younger ones saw in him the 
youthful Krishna of Vrindavan. He himself so idealised the love of the gopis for Krishna that he 
sometimes yearned to be born as a woman, if he must be born again, in order to be able to love Sri 
Krishna with all his heart and soul. 


At the age of sixteen Gadadhar was summoned to Calcutta by his elder brother Ramkumar, 
who wished assistance in his priestly duties. Ramkumar had opened a Sanskrit academy to 
supplement his income, and it was his intention gradually to turn his younger brother's mind to 
education. Gadadhar applied himself heart and soul to his new duty as family priest to a number of 
Calcutta families. His worship was very different from that of the professional priests. He spent 
hours decorating the images and singing hymns and devotional songs; he performed with love the 
other duties of his office. People were impressed with his ardour. But to his studies he paid scant 

Ramkumar did not at first oppose the ways of his temperamental brother. He wanted 
Gadadhar to become used to the conditions of city life. But one day he decided to warn the boy 
about his indifference to the world. After all, in the near future Gadadhar must, as a householder, 
earn his livelihood through the performance of his brahminical duties; and these required a 
thorough knowledge of Hindu law, astrology, and kindred subjects. He gently admonished 
Gadadhar and asked him to pay more attention to his studies. But the boy replied spiritedly: 
"Brother, what shall I do with a mere bread-winning education? I would rather acquire that 
wisdom which will illumine my heart and give me satisfaction for ever." 


The anguish of the inner soul of India found expression through these passionate words of 
the young Gadadhar. For what did his unsophisticated eyes see around him in Calcutta, at that 
time the metropolis of India and the centre of modern culture and learning? Greed and lust held 
sway in the higher levels of society, and the occasional religious practices were merely outer forms 
from which the soul had long ago departed. Gadadhar had never seen anything like this at 
Kamarpukur among the simple and pious villagers. The sadhus and wandering monks whom he 
had served in his boyhood had revealed to him an altogether different India. He had been 
impressed by their devotion and purity, their self-control and renunciation. He had learnt from 

them and from his own intuition that the ideal of life as taught by the ancient sages of India was 
the realization of God. 

When Ramkumar reprimanded Gadadhar for neglecting a "bread-winning education", the 
inner voice of the boy reminded him that the legacy of his ancestors - the legacy of Rama, Krishna, 
Buddha, Sankara, Ramanuja, Chaitanya - was not worldly security but the Knowledge of God. And 
these noble sages were the true representatives of Hindu society. Each of them was seated, as it 
were, on the crest of the wave that followed each successive trough in the tumultuous course of 
Indian national life. All demonstrated that the life current of India is spirituality. This truth was 
revealed to Gadadhar through that inner vision which scans past and future in one sweep, 
unobstructed by the barriers of time and space. But he was unaware of the history of the profound 
change that had taken place in the land of his birth during the previous one hundred years. 

Hindu society during the eighteenth century had been passing through a period of 
decadence. It was the twilight of the Mussalman rule. There were anarchy and confusion in all 
spheres. Superstitious practices dominated the religious life of the people. Rites and rituals passed 
for the essence of spirituality. Greedy priests became the custodians of heaven. True philosophy 
was supplanted by dogmatic opinions. The pundits took delight in vain polemics. 

In 1757 English traders laid the foundation of British rule in India. Gradually the 
Government was systematized and lawlessness suppressed. The Hindus were much impressed by 
the military power and political acumen of the new rulers. In the wake of the merchants came the 
English educators, and social reformers, and Christian missionaries - all bearing a culture 
completely alien to the Hindu mind. In different parts of the country educational institutions were 
set up and Christian churches established. Hindu young men were offered the heady wine of the 
Western culture of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, and they drank it to the 
very dregs. 

The first effect of the draught on the educated Hindus was a complete effacement from 
their minds of the time-honoured beliefs and traditions of Hindu society. They came to believe 
that there was no transcendental Truth. The world perceived by the senses was all that existed. 
God and religion were illusions of the untutored mind. True knowledge could be derived only from 
the analysis of nature. So atheism and agnosticism became the fashion of the day. The youth of 
India, taught in English schools, took malicious delight in openly breaking the customs and 
traditions of their society. They would do away with the caste-system and remove the 
discriminatory laws about food. Social reform, the spread of secular education, widow remarriage, 
abolition of early marriage they considered these the panacea for the degenerate condition of 
Hindu society. 

The Christian missionaries gave the finishing touch to the process of transformation. They 
ridiculed as relics of a barbarous age the images and rituals of the Hindu religion. They tried to 
persuade India that the teachings of her saints and seers were the cause of her downfall, that her 
Vedas, Puranas, and other scriptures were filled with superstition. Christianity, they maintained, 
had given the white races position and power in this world and assurance of happiness in the next; 
therefore Christianity was the best of all religions. Many intelligent young Hindus became 

converted. The man in the street was confused. The majority of the educated grew materialistic in 
their mental outlook. Everyone living near Calcutta or the other strongholds of Western culture, 
even those who attempted to cling to the orthodox traditions of Hindu society, became infected 
by the new uncertainties and the new beliefs. 

But the soul of India was to be resuscitated through a spiritual awakening. We hear the first 
call of this renascence in the spirited retort of the young Gadadhar: "Brother, what shall I do with a 
mere bread-winning education?" 

Ramkumar could hardly understand the import of his young brother's reply. He described in 
bright colours the happy and easy life of scholars in Calcutta society. But Gadadhar intuitively felt 
that the scholars, to use one of his own vivid illustrations, were like so many vultures, soaring high 
on the wings of their uninspired intellect, with their eyes fixed on the charnel-pit of greed and lust. 
So he stood firm and Ramkumar had to give way. 

KALI temple at dakshineswar 

At that time there lived in Calcutta a rich widow named Rani Rasmani, belonging to the 
Sudra caste, and known far and wide not only for her business ability, courage, and intelligence, 
but also for her largeness of heart, piety, and devotion to God. She was assisted in the 
management of her vast property by her son-in-law Mathur Mohan. 

In 1847 the Rani purchased twenty acres of land at Dakshineswar, a village about four miles 
north of Calcutta. Here she created a temple garden and constructed several temples. Her Ishta, or 
Chosen Ideal, was the Divine Mother, Kali. 

The temple garden stands directly on the east bank of the Ganges. The northern section of 
the land and a portion to the east contain an orchard, flower gardens, and two small reservoirs. 
The southern section is paved with brick and mortar. The visitor arriving by boat ascends the steps 
of an imposing bathing-Ghat, which leads to the Chandni, a roofed terrace, on either side of which 
stand in a row six temples of Siva. East of the terrace and the Siva temples is a large court, paved, 
rectangular in shape, and running north and south. Two temples stand in the centre of this court, 
the larger one, to the south and facing south, being dedicated to Kali, and the smaller one, facing 
the Ganges, to Radhakanta, that is, Krishna, the Consort of Radha. Nine domes with spires 
surmount the temple of Kali, and before it stands the spacious Natmandir, or music hall, the 
terrace of which is supported by stately pillars. At the northwest and southwest corners of the 
temple compound are two Nahabats, or music towers, from which music flows at different times 
of day, especially at sunup, noon, and sundown, when the worship is performed in the temples. 
Three sides of the paved courtyard -all except the west - are lined with rooms set apart for 
kitchens, store-rooms, dining-rooms, and quarters for the temple staff and guests. The chamber in 
the northwest angle, just beyond the last of the Siva temples, is of special interest to us; for here 
Sri Ramakrishna was to spend a considerable part of his life. To the west of this chamber is a 
semicircular porch overlooking the river. In front of the porch runs a foot-path, north and south, 
and beyond the path is a large garden and, below the garden, the Ganges. The orchard to the 
north of the buildings contains the Panchavati, the banyan, and the bel-tree, associated with Sri 
Ramakrishna's spiritual practices. Outside and to the north of the temple compound proper is the 

Kuthi, or bungalow, used by members of Rani Rasmani's family visiting the garden. And north of 
the temple garden, separated from it by a high wall, is a powder-magazine belonging to the British 


In the twelve Siva temples are installed the emblems of the Great God of renunciation in His 
various aspects, worshipped daily with proper rites. Siva requires few articles of worship. White 
flowers and bel-leaves and a little Ganges water offered with devotion are enough to satisfy the 
benign Deity and win from Him the boon of liberation. 


The temple of Radhakanta, also known as the temple of Vishnu, contains the images of 
Radha and Krishna, the symbol of union with God through ecstatic love. The two images stand on a 
pedestal facing the west. The floor is paved with marble. From the ceiling of the porch hang 
chandeliers protected from dust by coverings of red cloth. Canvas screens shield the images from 
the rays of the setting sun. Close to the threshold of the inner shrine is a small brass cup containing 
holy water. Devoted visitors reverently drink a few drops from the vessel. 


The main temple is dedicated to Kali, the Divine Mother, here worshipped as Bhavatarini, 
the Saviour of the Universe. The floor of this temple also is paved with marble. The basalt image of 
the Mother, dressed in gorgeous gold brocade, stands on a white marble image of the prostrate 
body of Her Divine Consort, Siva, the symbol of the Absolute. On the feet of the Goddess are, 
among other ornaments, anklets of gold. Her arms are decked with jeweled ornaments of gold. 
She wears necklaces of gold and pearls, a golden garland of human heads, and a girdle of human 
arms. She wears a golden crown, golden ear-rings, and a golden nose-ring with a pearl-drop. She 
has four arms. The lower left hand holds a severed human head and the upper grips a 
blood-stained sabre. One right hand offers boons to Her children; the other allays their fear. The 
majesty of Her posture can hardly be described. It combines the terror of destruction with the 
reassurance of motherly tenderness. For She is the Cosmic Power, the totality of the universe, a 
glorious harmony of the pairs of opposites. She deals out death, as She creates and preserves. She 
has three eyes, the third being the symbol of Divine Wisdom; they strike dismay into the wicked, 
yet pour out affection for Her devotees. 

The whole symbolic world is represented in the temple garden - the Trinity of the Nature 
Mother (Kali), the Absolute (Siva), and Love (Radhakanta), the Arch spanning heaven and earth. 
The terrific Goddess of the Tantra, the soul-enthralling Flute-Player of the Bhagavata, and the 
Self-absorbed Absolute of the Vedas live together, creating the greatest synthesis of religions. All 
aspects of Reality are represented there. But of this divine household, Kali is the pivot, the 
sovereign Mistress. She is Prakriti, the Procreatrix, Nature, the Destroyer, the Creator. Nay, She is 
something greater and deeper still for those who have eyes to see. She is the Universal Mother, 
"my Mother" as Ramakrishna would say, the All-powerful, who reveals Herself to Her children 
under different aspects and Divine Incarnations, the Visible God, who leads the elect to the 

Invisible Reality; and if it so pleases Her, She takes away the last trace of ego from created beings 
and merges it in the consciousness of the Absolute, the undifferentiated God. Through Her grace 
"the finite ego loses itself in the illimitable Ego-Atman-Brahman". 

Rani Rasmani spent a fortune for the construction of the temple garden and another 
fortune for its dedication ceremony, which took place on May 31, 1855. 

Sri Ramakrishna - henceforth we shall call Gadadhar by this familiar name - came to the 
temple garden with his elder brother Ramkumar, who was appointed priest of the Kali temple. Sri 
Ramakrishna did not at first approve of Ramkumar's working for the Sudra Rasmani. The example 
of their orthodox father was still fresh in Sri Ramakrishna's mind. He objected also to the eating of 
the cooked offerings of the temple, since, according to orthodox Hindu custom, such food can be 
offered to the Deity only in the house of a brahmin. But the holy atmosphere of the temple 
grounds, the solitude of the surrounding wood, the loving care of his brother, the respect shown 
him by Rani Rasmani and Mathur 

Babu, the living presence of the Goddess Kali in the temple, and, above all, the proximity of 
the sacred Ganges, which Sri Ramakrishna always held in the highest respect, gradually overcame 
his disapproval, and he began to feel at home. 

Within a very short time Sri Ramakrishna attracted the notice of Mathur Babu, who was 
impressed by the young man's religious fervour and wanted him to participate in the worship in 
the Kali temple. But Sri Ramakrishna loved his freedom and was indifferent to any worldly career. 
The profession of the priesthood in a temple founded by a rich woman did not appeal to his mind. 
Further, he hesitated to take upon himself the responsibility for the ornaments and jewellery of 
the temple. Mathur had to wait for a suitable occasion. 

At this time there came to Dakshineswar a youth of sixteen, destined to play an important 
role in Sri Ramakrishna's life. Hriday, a distant nephew of Sri Ramakrishna, hailed from Sihore, a 
village not far from Kamarpukur, and had been his boyhood friend. Clever, exceptionally energetic, 
and endowed with great presence of mind, he moved, as will be seen later, like a shadow about his 
uncle and was always ready to help him, even at the sacrifice of his personal comfort. He was 
destined to be a mute witness of many of the spiritual experiences of Sri Ramakrishna and the 
caretaker of his body during the stormy days of his spiritual practice. Hriday came to Dakshineswar 
in search of a job, and Sri Ramakrishna was glad to see him. 

Unable to resist the persuasion of Mathur Babu, Sri Ramakrishna at last entered the temple 
service, on condition that Hriday should be asked to assist him. His first duty was to dress and 
decorate the image of Kali. 

One day the priest of the Radhakanta temple accidentally dropped the image of Krishna on 
the floor, breaking one of its legs. The pundits advised the Rani to install a new image, since the 
worship of an image with a broken limb was against the scriptural injunctions. But the Rani was 
fond of the image, and she asked Sri Ramakrishna's opinion. In an abstracted mood, he said: "This 
solution is ridiculous. If a son-in-law of the Rani broke his leg, would she discard him and put 
another in his place? Wouldn't she rather arrange for his treatment? Why should she not do the 

same thing in this case too? Let the image be repaired and worshipped as before." It was a simple, 
straightforward solution and was accepted by the Rani. Sri Ramakrishna himself mended the 
break. The priest was dismissed for his carelessness, and at Mathur Babu's earnest request, Sri 
Ramakrishna accepted the Office of priest in the Radhakanta temple. 


Born in an orthodox brahmin family, Sri Ramakrishna knew the formalities of worship, its 
rites and rituals. The innumerable gods and goddesses of the Hindu religion are the human aspects 
of the indescribable and incomprehensible Spirit, as conceived by the finite human mind. They 
understand and appreciate human love and emotion, help men to realize their secular and 
spiritual ideals, and ultimately enable men to attain liberation from the miseries of phenomenal 
life. The Source of light, intelligence, wisdom, and strength is the One alone from whom comes the 
fulfilment of desire. Yet, as long as a man is bound by his human limitations, he cannot but worship 
God through human forms. He must use human symbols. Therefore Hinduism asks the devotees to 
look on God as the ideal father, the ideal mother, the ideal husband, the ideal son, or the ideal 
friend. But the name ultimately leads to the Nameless, the form to the Formless, the word to the 
Silence, the emotion to the serene realization of Peace in ExistenceKnowledge-Bliss Absolute. The 
gods gradually merge in the one God. But until that realization is achieved, the devotee cannot 
dissociate human factors from his worship. Therefore the Deity is bathed and clothed and decked 
with ornaments. He is fed and put to sleep. He is propitiated with hymns, songs, and prayers. And 
there are appropriate rites connected with all these functions. For instance, to secure for himself 
external purity, the priest bathes himself in holy water and puts on a holy cloth. He purifies the 
mind and the sense organs by appropriate meditations. He fortifies the place of worship against 
evil forces by drawing around it circles of fire and water. He awakens the different spiritual centres 
of the body and invokes the Supreme Spirit in his heart. Then he transfers the Supreme Spirit to 
the image before him and worships the image, regarding it no longer as clay or stone, but as the 
embodiment of Spirit, throbbing with Life and Consciousness. After the worship the Supreme Spirit 
is recalled from the image to Its true sanctuary, the heart of the priest. The real devotee knows the 
absurdity of worshipping the Transcendental Reality with material articles - clothing That which 
pervades the whole universe and the beyond, putting on a pedestal That which cannot be limited 
by space, feeding That which is disembodied and incorporeal, singing before That whose glory the 
music of the spheres tries vainly to proclaim. But through these rites the devotee aspires to go 
ultimately beyond rites and rituals, forms and names, words and praise, and to realize God as the 
All-pervading Consciousness. 

Hindu priests are thoroughly acquainted with the rites of worship, but few of them are 
aware of their underlying significance. They move their hands and limbs mechanically, in 
obedience to the letter of the scriptures, and repeat the holy mantras like parrots. But from the 
very beginning the inner meaning of these rites was revealed to Sri Ramakrishna. As he sat facing 
the image, a strange transformation came over his mind. While going through the prescribed 
ceremonies, he would actually find himself encircled by a wall of fire protecting him and the place 
of worship from unspiritual vibrations, or he would feel the rising of the mystic Kundalini through 

the different centres of the body. The glow on his face, his deep absorption, and the intense 
atmosphere of the temple impressed everyone who saw him worship the Deity. 

Ramkumar wanted Sri Ramakrishna to learn the intricate rituals of the worship of Kali. To 
become a priest of Kali one must undergo a special form of initiation from a qualified guru, and for 
Sri Ramakrishna a suitable brahmin was found. But no sooner did the brahmin speak the holy word 
in his ear than Sri Ramakrishna, overwhelmed with emotion, uttered a loud cry and plunged into 
deep concentration. 

Mathur begged Sri Ramakrishna to take charge of the worship in the Kali temple. The young 
priest pleaded his incompetence and his ignorance of the scriptures. Mathur insisted that devotion 
and sincerity would more than compensate for any lack of formal knowledge and make the Divine 
Mother manifest Herself through the image. In the end, Sri Ramakrishna had to yield to Mathur's 
request. He became the priest of Kali. 

In 1856 Ramkumar breathed his last. Sri Ramakrishna had already witnessed more than one 
death in the family. He had come to realize how impermanent is life on earth. The more he was 
convinced of the transitory nature of worldly things, the more eager he became to realize God, the 
Fountain of Immortality. 


And, indeed, he soon discovered what a strange Goddess he had chosen to serve. He 
became gradually enmeshed in the web of Her all-pervading presence. To the ignorant She is to be 
sure, the image of destruction: but he found in Her the benign, all-loving Mother. Her neck is 
encircled with a garland of heads, and Her waist with a girdle of human arms and two of Her hands 
hold weapons of death, and Her eyes dart a glance of fire; but, strangely enough, Ramakrishna 
felt in Her breath the soothing touch of tender love and saw in Her the Seed of Immortality. She 
stands on the bosom of Her Consort, Siva; it is because She is the Sakti, the Power, inseparable 
from the Absolute. She is surrounded by jackals and other unholy creatures, the denizens of the 
cremation ground. But is not the Ultimate Reality above holiness and unholiness? She appears to 
be reeling under the spell of wine. But who would create this mad world unless under the 
influence of a divine drunkenness? She is the highest symbol of all the forces of nature, the 
synthesis of their antinomies, the Ultimate Divine in the form of woman. She now became to Sri 
Ramakrishna the only Reality, and the world became an unsubstantial shadow. Into Her worship 
he poured his soul. Before him She stood as the transparent portal to the shrine of Ineffable 

The worship in the temple intensified Sri Ramakrishna's yearning for a living vision of the 
Mother of the Universe. He began to spend in meditation the time not actually employed in the 
temple service; and for this purpose he selected an extremely solitary place. A deep jungle, thick 
with underbrush and prickly plants, lay to the north of the temples. Used at one time as a burial 
ground, it was shunned by people even during the day-time for fear of ghosts. There Sri 
Ramakrishna began to spend the whole night in meditation, returning to his room only in the 
morning with eyes swollen as though from much weeping. While meditating, he would lay aside 
his cloth and his brahminical thread. Explaining this strange conduct, he once said to Hriday: "Don't 

you know that when one thinks of God one should be freed from all ties? From our very birth we 
have the eight fetters of hatred, shame, lineage, pride of good conduct, fear, secretiveness, caste, 
and grief. The sacred thread reminds me that I am a brahmin and therefore superior to all. When 
calling on the Mother one has to set aside all such ideas." Hriday thought his uncle was becoming 

As his love for God deepened, he began either to forget or to drop the formalities of 
worship. Sitting before the image, he would spend hours singing the devotional songs of great 
devotees of the Mother, such as Kamalakanta and Ramprasad. Those rhapsodical songs, describing 
the direct vision of God, only intensified Sri Ramakrishna's longing. He felt the pangs of a child 
separated from its mother. Sometimes, in agony, he would rub his face against the ground and 
weep so bitterly that people, thinking he had lost his earthly mother, would sympathize with him 
in his grief. Sometimes, in moments of scepticism, he would cry: "Art Thou true, Mother, or is it all 
fiction -mere poetry without any reality? If Thou dost exist, why do I not see Thee? Is religion a 
mere fantasy and art Thou only a figment of man's imagination?" Sometimes he would sit on the 
prayer carpet for two hours like an inert object. He began to behave in an abnormal manner, most 
of the time unconscious of the world. He almost gave up food; and sleep left him altogether. 

But he did not have to wait very long. He has thus described his first vision of the Mother: "I 
felt as if my heart were being squeezed like a wet towel. I was overpowered with a great 
restlessness and a fear that it might not be my lot to realize Her in this life. I could not bear the 
separation from Her any longer. Life seemed to be not worth living. Suddenly my glance fell on the 
sword that was kept in the Mother's temple. I determined to put an end to my life. When I jumped 
up like a madman and seized it, suddenly the blessed Mother revealed Herself. The buildings with 
their different parts, the temple, and everything else vanished from my sight, leaving no trace 
whatsoever, and in their stead I saw a limitless, infinite, effulgent Ocean of Consciousness. As far 
as the eye could see, the shining billows were madly rushing at me from all sides with a terrific 
noise, to swallow me up! I was panting for breath. I was caught in the rush and collapsed, 
unconscious. What was happening in the outside world I did not know; but within me there was a 
steady flow of undiluted bliss, altogether new, and I felt the presence of the Divine Mother." On 
his lips when he regained consciousness of the world was the word "Mother". 


Yet this was only a foretaste of the intense experiences to come. The first glimpse of the 
Divine Mother made him the more eager for Her uninterrupted vision. He wanted to see Her both 
in meditation and with eyes open. But the Mother began to play a teasing game of hide-and-seek 
with him, intensifying both his joy and his suffering. Weeping bitterly during the moments of 
separation from Her, he would pass into a trance and then find Her standing before him, smiling, 
talking, consoling, bidding him be of good cheer, and instructing him. During this period of spiritual 
practice he had many uncommon experiences. When he sat to meditate, he would hear strange 
clicking sounds in the joints of his legs, as if someone were locking them up, one after the other, to 
keep him motionless; and at the conclusion of his meditation he would again hear the same 
sounds, this time unlocking them and leaving him free to move about. He would see flashes like a 
swarm of fire-flies floating before his eyes, or a sea of deep mist around him, with luminous waves 

of molten silver. Again, from a sea of translucent mist he would behold the Mother rising, first Her 
feet, then Her waist, body, face, and head, finally Her whole person; he would feel Her breath and 
hear Her voice. Worshipping in the temple, sometimes he would become exalted, sometimes he 
would remain motionless as stone, sometimes he would almost collapse from excessive emotion. 
Many of his actions, contrary to all tradition, seemed sacrilegious to the people. He would take a 
flower and touch it to his own head, body, and feet, and then offer it to the Goddess. Or, like a 
drunkard, he would reel to the throne of the Mother, touch Her chin by way of showing his 
affection for Her, and sing, talk, joke, laugh, and dance. Or he would take a morsel of food from 
the plate and hold it to Her mouth, begging Her to eat it, and would not be satisfied till he was 
convinced that She had really eaten. After the Mother had been put to sleep at night, from his own 
room he would hear Her ascending to the upper storey of the temple with the light steps of a 
happy girl, Her anklets jingling. Then he would discover Her standing with flowing hair, Her black 
form silhouetted against the sky of the night looking at the Ganges or at the distant lights of 

Naturally the temple officials took him for an insane person. His worldly well-wishers 
brought him to skilled physicians; but no medicine could cure his malady. Many a time he doubted 
his sanity himself. For he had been sailing across an uncharted sea, with no earthly guide to direct 
him. His only haven of security was the Divine Mother Herself. To Her he would pray: "I do not 
know what these things are. I am ignorant of mantras and the scriptures. Teach me, Mother, how 
to realize Thee. Who else can help me? Art Thou not my only refuge and guide?" And the 
sustaining presence of the Mother never failed him in his distress or doubt. Even those who 
criticized his conduct were greatly impressed with his purity, guilelessness, truthfulness, integrity, 
and holiness. They felt an uplifting influence in his presence. 

It is said that Samadhi, or trance, no more than opens the portal of the spiritual realm. Sri 
Ramakrishna felt an unquenchable desire to enjoy God in various ways. For his meditation he built 
a place in the northern wooded section of the temple garden. With Hriday's help he planted there 
five sacred trees. The spot, known as the Panchavati, became the scene of many of his visions. 

As his spiritual mood deepened he more and more felt himself to be a child of the Divine 
Mother. He learnt to surrender himself completely to Her will and let Her direct him. 

"0 Mother," he would constantly pray, "I have taken refuge in Thee. Teach me what to do 
and what to say. Thy will is paramount everywhere and is for the good of Thy children. Merge my 
will in Thy will and make me Thy instrument." 

His visions became deeper and more intimate. He no longer had to meditate to behold the 
Divine Mother. Even while retaining consciousness of the outer world, he would see Her as 
tangibly as the temples, the trees, the river, and the men around him. 

On a certain occasion Mathur Babu stealthily entered the temple to watch the worship. He 
was profoundly moved by the young priest's devotion and sincerity. He realized that Sri 
Ramakrishna had transformed the stone image into the living Goddess. 

Sri Ramakrishna one day fed a cat with the food that was to be offered to Kali. This was too 
much for the manager of the temple garden, who considered himself responsible for the proper 
conduct of the worship. He reported Sri Ramakrishna's insane behaviour to Mathur Babu. 

Sri Ramakrishna has described the incident: "The Divine Mother revealed to me in the Kali 
temple that it was She who had become everything. She showed me that everything was full of 
Consciousness. The image was Consciousness, the altar was Consciousness, the water-vessels were 
Consciousness, the door-sill was Consciousness, the marble floor was Consciousness - all was 
Consciousness. I found everything inside the room soaked, as it were, in Bliss - the Bliss of God. I 
saw a wicked man in front of the Kali temple; but in him also I saw the power of the Divine Mother 
vibrating. That was why I fed a cat with the food that was to be offered to the Divine Mother. I 
clearly perceived that all this was the Divine Mother - even the cat. The manager of the temple 
garden wrote to Mathur Babu saying that I was feeding the cat with the offering intended for the 
Divine Mother. But Mathur Babu had insight into the state of my mind. He wrote back to the 
manager: 'Let him do whatever he likes. You must not say anything to him.' " 

One of the painful ailments from which Sri Ramakrishna suffered at this time was a burning 
sensation in his body, and he was cured by a strange vision. During worship in the temple, 
following the scriptural injunctions, he would imagine the presence of the "sinner" in himself and 
the destruction of this "sinner". One day he was meditating in the Panchavati, when he saw come 
out of him a red-eyed man of black complexion, reeling like a drunkard. Soon there emerged from 
him another person, of serene countenance, wearing the ochre cloth of a sannyasi and carrying in 
his hand a trident. The second person attacked the first and killed him with the trident. Thereafter 
Sri Ramakrishna was free of his pain. 

About this time he began to worship God by assuming the attitude of a servant toward his 
master. He imitated the mood of Hanuman, the monkey chieftain of the Ramayana, the ideal 
servant of Rama and traditional model for this self-effacing form of devotion. When he meditated 
on Hanuman his movements and his way of life began to resemble those of a monkey. His eyes 
became restless. He lived on fruits and roots. With his cloth tied around his waist, a portion of it 
hanging in the form of a tail, he jumped from place to place instead of walking. And after a short 
while he was blessed with a vision of Sita, the divine consort of Rama, who entered his body and 
disappeared there with the words, "I bequeath to you my smile." 

Mathur had faith in the sincerity of Sri Ramakrishna's spiritual zeal, but began now to doubt 
his sanity. He had watched him jumping about like a monkey. One day, when Rani Rasmani was 
listening to Sri Ramakrishna's singing in the temple, the young priest abruptly turned and slapped 
her. Apparently listening to his song, she had actually been thinking of a lawsuit. She accepted the 
punishment as though the Divine Mother Herself had imposed it; but Mathur was distressed. He 
begged Sri Ramakrishna to keep his feelings under control and to heed the conventions of society. 
God Himself, he argued, follows laws. God never permitted, for instance, flowers of two colours to 
grow on the same stalk. The following day Sri Ramakrishna presented Mathur Babu with two 
hibiscus flowers growing on the same stalk, one red and one white. 

Mathur and Rani Rasmani began to ascribe the mental ailment of Sri Ramakrishna in part, at 
least, to his observance of rigid continence. Thinking that a natural life would relax the tension of 
his nerves, they engineered a plan with two women of ill fame. But as soon as the women entered 
his room, Sri Ramakrishna beheld in them the manifestation of the Divine Mother of the Universe 
and went into Samadhi uttering Her name. 


In 1858 there came to Dakshineswar a cousin of Sri Ramakrishna, Haladhari by name, who 
was to remain there about eight years. On account of Sri Ramakrishna's indifferent health, Mathur 
appointed this man to the office of priest in the Kali temple. He was a complex character, versed in 
the letter of the scriptures, but hardly aware of their spirit. He loved to participate in hair-splitting 
theological discussions and, by the measure of his own erudition, he proceeded to gauge Sri 
Ramakrishna. An orthodox brahmin, he thoroughly disapproved of his cousin's unorthodox actions, 
but he was not unimpressed by Sri Ramakrishna's purity of life, ecstatic love of God, and yearning 
for realization. 

One day Haladhari upset Sri Ramakrishna with the statement that God is incomprehensible 
to the human mind. Sri Ramakrishna has described the great moment of doubt when he wondered 
whether his visions had really misled him: "With sobs I prayed to the Mother, 'Canst Thou have the 
heart to deceive me like this because I am a fool?' A stream of tears flowed from my eyes. Shortly 
afterwards I saw a volume of mist rising from the floor and filling the space before me. In the midst 
of it there appeared a face with flowing beard, calm, highly expressive, and fair. Fixing its gaze 
steadily upon me, it said solemnly, 'Remain in Bhava-mukha, on the threshold of relative 
consciousness.' This it repeated three times and then it gently disappeared in the mist, which itself 
dissolved. This vision reassured me." 

A garbled report of Sri Ramakrishna's failing health, indifference to worldly life, and various 
abnormal activities reached Kamarpukur and filled the heart of his poor mother with anguish. At 
her repeated request he returned to his village for a change of air. But his boyhood friends did not 
interest him any more. A divine fever was consuming him. He spent a great part of the day and 
night in one of the cremation grounds, in meditation. The place reminded him of the 
impermanence of the human body, of human hopes and achievements. It also reminded him of 
Kali, the Goddess of destruction. 


But in a few months his health showed improvement, and he recovered to some extent his 
natural buoyancy of spirit. His happy mother was encouraged to think it might be a good time to 
arrange his marriage. The boy was now twenty-three years old. A wife would bring him back to 
earth. And she was delighted when her son welcomed her suggestion. Perhaps he saw in it the 
finger of God. 

Saradamani, a little girl of five, lived in the neighbouring village called Jayrambati. Even at 
this age she had been praying to God to make her character as stainless and fragrant as the white 
tuberose. Looking at the full moon, she would say: "0 God, there are dark spots even on the 

moon. But make my character spotless." It was she who was selected as the bride for Sri 

The marriage ceremony was duly performed. Such early marriage in India is in the nature of 
a betrothal, the marriage being consummated when the girl attains puberty. But in this case the 
marriage remained for ever unconsummated. Sri Ramakrishna lived at Kamarpukur about a year 
and a half and then returned to Dakshineswar. 

Hardly had he crossed the threshold of the Kali temple when he found himself again in the 
whirlwind. His madness reappeared tenfold. The same meditation and prayer, the same ecstatic 
moods, the same burning sensation, the same weeping, the same sleeplessness, the same 
indifference to the body and the outside world, the same divine delirium. He subjected himself to 
fresh disciplines in order to eradicate greed and lust, the two great impediments to spiritual 
progress. With a rupee in one hand and some earth in the other, he would reflect on the 
comparative value of these two for the realization of God, and finding them equally worthless he 
would toss them, with equal indifference, into the Ganges. Women he regarded as the 
manifestations of the Divine Mother. Never even in a dream did he feel the impulses of lust. And 
to root out of his mind the idea of caste superiority, he cleaned a pariah's house with his long and 
neglected hair. When he would sit in meditation, birds would perch on his head and peck in his 
hair for grains of food. Snakes would crawl over his body, and neither would he aware of the 
other. Sleep left him altogether. Day and night, visions flitted before him. He saw the sannyasi who 
had previously killed the "sinner" in him again coming out of his body, threatening him with the 
trident, and ordering him to concentrate on God. Or the same sannyasi would visit distant places, 
following a luminous path, and bring him reports of what was happening there. Sri Ramakrishna 
used to say later that in the case of an advanced devotee the mind itself becomes the guru, living 
and moving like an embodied being. 

Rani Rasmani, the foundress of the temple garden, passed away in 1861. After her death 
her son-in-law Mathur became the sole executor of the estate. He placed himself and his 
resources at the disposal of Sri Ramakrishna and began to look after his physical comfort. Sri 
Ramakrishna later spoke of him as one of his five "suppliers of stores" appointed by the Divine 
Mother. Whenever a desire arose in his mind, Mathur fulfilled it without hesitation. 


There came to Dakshineswar at this time a brahmin woman who was to play an important 
part in Sri Ramakrishna's spiritual unfoldment. Born in East Bengal, she was an adept in the Tantrik 
and Vaishnava methods of worship. She was slightly over fifty years of age, handsome, and garbed 
in the orange robe of a nun. Her sole possessions were a few books and two pieces of 

Sri Ramakrishna welcomed the visitor with great respect, described to her his experiences 
and visions, and told her of people's belief that these were symptoms of madness. She listened to 
him attentively and said: "My son, everyone in this world is mad. Some are mad for money, some 
for creature comforts, some for name and fame; and you are mad for God." She assured him that 
he was passing through the almost unknown spiritual experience described in the scriptures as 

Maha-bhava, the most exalted rapture of divine love. She told him that this extreme exaltation 
had been described as manifesting itself through nineteen physical symptoms, including the 
shedding of tears, a tremor of the body, horripilation, perspiration, and a burning sensation. The 
Bhakti scriptures, she declared, had recorded only two instances of the experience, namely, those 
of Sri Radha and Sri Chaitanya. 

Very soon a tender relationship sprang up between Sri Ramakrishna and the Brahmani, she 
looking upon him as the Baby Krishna, and he upon her as mother. Day after day, she watched his 
ecstasy during the kirtan and meditation, his Samadhi, his mad yearning; and she recognized in 
him a power to transmit spirituality to others. She came to the conclusion that such things were 
not possible for an ordinary devotee, not even for a highly developed soul. Only an Incarnation of 
God was capable of such spiritual manifestations. She proclaimed openly that Sri Ramakrishna, like 
Sri Chaitanya, was an Incarnation of God. 

When Sri Ramakrishna told Mathur what the Brahmani had said about him, Mathur shook 
his head in doubt. He was reluctant to accept him as an Incarnation of God, an Avatar comparable 
to Rama, Krishna, Buddha, and Chaitanya, though he admitted Sri Ramakrishna's extraordinary 
spirituality. Whereupon the Brahmani asked Mathur to arrange a conference of scholars who 
should discuss the matter with her. He agreed to the proposal and the meeting was arranged. It 
was to be held in the Natmandir in front of the Kali temple. 

Two famous pundits of the time were invited: Vaishnavcharan, the leader of the Vaishnava 
society, and Gauri. The first to arrive was Vaishnavcharan, with a distinguished company of 
scholars and devotees. The Brahmani, like a proud mother, proclaimed her view before him and 
supported it with quotations from the scriptures. As the pundits discussed the deep theological 
question, Sri Ramakrishna, perfectly indifferent to everything happening around him, sat in their 
midst like a child, immersed in his own thoughts, sometimes smiling, sometimes chewing a pinch 
of spices from a pouch, or again saying to Vaishnavcharan with a nudge: "Look here. Sometimes I 
feel like this, too." Presently Vaishnavcharan arose to declare himself in total agreement with the 
view of the Brahmani. He declared that Sri Ramakrishna had undoubtedly experienced 
Maha-bhava and that this was the certain sign of the rare manifestation of God in a man. The 
people assembled there, especially the officers of the temple garden, were struck dumb. Sri 
Ramakrishna said to Mathur, like a boy: "Just fancy, he too says so! Well, I am glad to learn that, 
after all, it is not a disease." 

When, a few days later, Pundit Gauri arrived, another meeting was held, and he agreed with 
the view of the Brahmani and Vaishnavcharan. To Sri Ramakrishna's remark that Vaishnavcharan 
had declared him to be an Avatar, Gauri replied: "Is that all he has to say about you? Then he has 
said very little. I am fully convinced that you are that Mine of Spiritual Power, only a small fraction 
of which descends on earth, from time to time, in the form of an Incarnation." 

"Ah!" said Sri Ramakrishna with a smile, "You seem to have quite outbid Vaishnavcharan in 
this matter. What have you found in me that makes you entertain such an idea?" 

Gauri said: "I feel it in my heart and I have the scriptures on my side. I am ready to prove it 
to anyone who challenges me." 

"Well," Sri Ramakrishna said, "it is you who say so; but, believe me, I know nothing about 


Thus, the insane priest was, by verdict of the great scholars of the day, proclaimed a Divine 
Incarnation. His visions were not the result of an over heated brain; they had precedent in spiritual 
history. And how did the proclamation affect Sri Ramakrishna himself? He remained the simple 
child of the Mother that he had been since the first day of his life. Years later, when two of his 
householder disciples openly spoke of him as a Divine Incarnation and the matter was reported to 
him, he said with a touch of sarcasm: "Do they think they will enhance my glory that way? One of 
them is an actor on the stage and the other a physician. What do they know about Incarnations? 
Why years ago pundits like Gauri and Vaishnavcharan declared me to be an Avatar. They were 
great scholars and knew what they said. But that did not make any change in my mind." 

Sri Ramakrishna was a learner all his life. He often used to quote a proverb to his disciples: 
"Friend, the more I live the more I learn." When the excitement created by the Brahmani's 
declaration was over, he set himself to the task of practising spiritual disciplines according to the 
traditional methods laid down in the Tantra and Vaishnava scriptures. Hitherto he had pursued his 
spiritual ideal according to the promptings of his own mind and heart. Now he accepted the 
Brahmani as his guru and set foot on the traditional highways. 


According to the Tantra, the Ultimate Reality is Chit, or Consciousness, which is identical 
with Sat, or Being, and with Ananda, or Bliss. This Ultimate Reality, Satchidananda, 
Existence-Knowledge-Bliss Absolute, is identical with the Reality preached in the Vedas. And man 
is identical with this Reality; but under the influence of Maya, or illusion, he has forgotten his true 
nature. He takes to be real a merely apparent world of subject and object, and this error is the 
cause of his bondage and suffering. The goal of spiritual discipline is the rediscovery of his true 
identity with the divine Reality. 

For the achievement of this goal the Vedanta prescribes an austere negative method of 
discrimination and renunciation, which can be followed by only a few individuals endowed with 
sharp intelligence and unshakeable will-power. But Tantra takes into consideration the natural 
weakness of human beings, their lower appetites, and their love for the concrete. It combines 
philosophy with rituals, meditation with ceremonies, renunciation with enjoyment. The underlying 
purpose is gradually to train the aspirant to meditate on his identity with the Ultimate. 

The average man wishes to enjoy the material objects of the world. Tantra bids him enjoy 
these, but at the same time, discover in them the presence of God. Mystical rites are prescribed by 
which, slowly, the sense objects become spiritualized and sense attraction is transformed into a 
love of God. So the very "bonds" of man are turned into "releasers". The very poison that kills is 
transmuted into the elixir of life. Outward renunciation is not necessary. Thus, the aim of Tantra is 
to sublimate Bhoga, or enjoyment, into Yoga, or union with Consciousness. For, according to this 
philosophy, the world with all its manifestations is nothing but the sport of Siva and Sakti, the 
Absolute and Its inscrutable Power. 


The disciplines of Tantra are graded to suit aspirants of all degrees. Exercises are prescribed 
for people with "animal", "heroic", and "divine" outlooks. Certain of the rites require the presence 
of members of the opposite sex. Here the aspirant learns to look on woman as the embodiment of 
the Goddess Kali, the Mother of the Universe. The very basis of Tantra is the Motherhood of God 
and the glorification of woman. Every part of a woman's body is to be regarded as incarnate 
Divinity. But the rites are extremely dangerous. The help of a qualified guru is absolutely 
necessary. An unwary devotee may lose his foothold and fall into a pit of depravity. 

According to the Tantra, Sakti is the active creative force in the universe. Siva, the Absolute, 
is a more or less passive principle. Further, Sakti is as inseparable from Siva as fire's power to burn 
is from fire itself. Sakti, the Creative Power, contains in Its womb the universe, and therefore is the 
Divine Mother. All women are Her symbols. Kali is one of Her several forms. The meditation on 
Kali, the Creative Power, is the central discipline of the Tantra. While meditating, the aspirant at 
first regards himself as one with the Absolute and then thinks that out of that Impersonal 
Consciousness emerge two entities, namely, his own self and the living form of the Goddess. He 
then projects the Goddess into the tangible image before him and worships it as the Divine 

Sri Ramakrishna set himself to the task of practising the disciplines of Tantra; and at the 
bidding of the Divine Mother Herself he accepted the Brahmani as his guru. He performed 
profound and delicate ceremonies in the Panchavati and under the bel-tree at the northern 
extremity of the temple compound. He practised all the disciplines of the sixty-four principal 
Tantra books, and it took him never more than three days to achieve the result promised in any 
one of them. After the observance of a few preliminary rites, he would be overwhelmed with a 
strange divine fervour and would go into Samadhi, where his mind would dwell in exaltation. Evil 
ceased to exist for him. The word "carnal" lost its meaning. The whole world and everything in it 
appeared as the Lila, the sport, of Siva and Sakti. He beheld everywhere manifest the power and 
beauty of the Mother, the whole world, animate and inanimate, appeared to him as pervaded with 
Chit, Consciousness, and with Ananda, Bliss. 

He saw in a vision the Ultimate Cause of the universe as a huge luminous triangle giving 
birth every moment to an infinite number of worlds. He heard the Anahata Sabda, the great sound 
Om, of which the innumerable sounds of the universe are only so many echoes. He acquired the 
eight supernatural powers of Yoga, which make a man almost omnipotent, and these he spurned 
as of no value whatsoever to the Spirit. He had a vision of the divine Maya, the inscrutable Power 
of God, by which the universe is created and sustained, and into which it is finally absorbed. In this 
vision he saw a woman of exquisite beauty, about to become a mother, emerging from the Ganges 
and slowly approaching the Panchavati. Presently she gave birth to a child and began to nurse it 
tenderly. A moment later she assumed a terrible aspect, seized the child with her grim jaws and 
crushed it. Swallowing it, she re-entered the waters of the Ganges. 

But the most remarkable experience during this period was the awakening of the Kundalini 
Sakti, the "Serpent Power". He actually saw the Power, at first lying asleep at the bottom of the 

spinal column, then waking up and ascending along the mystic Sushumna canal and through its six 
centres, or lotuses, to the Sahasrara, the thousand-petalled lotus in the top of the head. He further 
saw that as the Kundalini went upward the different lotuses bloomed. And this phenomenon was 
accompanied by visions and trances. Later on he described to his disciples and devotees the 
various movements of the Kundalini: the fishlike, birdlike, monkey like, and so on. The awakening 
of the Kundalini is the beginning of spiritual consciousness, and its union with Siva in the 
Sahasrara, ending in Samadhi, is the consummation of the Tantrik disciplines. 

About this time it was revealed to him that in a short while many devotees would seek his 


After completing the Tantrik sadhana Sri Ramakrishna followed the Brahmani in the 
disciplines of Vaishnavism. The Vaishnavas are worshippers of Vishnu, the "Allpervading", the 
Supreme God, who is also known as Hari and Narayana. Of Vishnu's various Incarnations the two 
with the largest number of followers are Rama and Krishna. 

Vaishnavism is exclusively a religion of bhakti. Bhakti is intense love of God, attachment to 
Him alone; it is of the nature of bliss and bestows upon the lover immortality and liberation. God, 
according to Vaishnavism, cannot be realized through logic or reason; and, without bhakti, all 
penances, austerities, and rites are futile. Man cannot realize God by self-exertion alone. For the 
vision of God His grace is absolutely necessary, and this grace is felt by the pure of heart. The mind 
is to be purified through bhakti. The pure mind then remains for ever immersed in the ecstasy of 
God-vision. It is the cultivation of this divine love that is the chief concern of the Vaishnava 

There are three kinds of formal devotion: tamasic, rajasic, and sattvic. If a person, while 
showing devotion to God, is actuated by malevolence, arrogance, jealousy, or anger, then his 
devotion is tamasic, since it is influenced by tamas, the quality of inertia. If he worships God from a 
desire for fame or wealth, or from any other worldly ambition, then his devotion is rajasic, since it 
is influenced by rajas, the quality of activity. But if a person loves God without any thought of 
material gain, if he performs his duties to please God alone and maintains toward all created 
beings the attitude of friendship, then his devotion is called sattvic, since it is influenced by sattva, 
the quality of harmony. But the highest devotion transcends the three gunas, or qualities, being a 
spontaneous, uninterrupted inclination of the mind toward God, the Inner Soul of all beings; and it 
wells up in the heart of a true devotee as soon as he hears the name of God or mention of God's 
attributes. A devotee possessed of this love would not accept the happiness of heaven if it were 
offered him. His one desire is to love God under all conditions -in pleasure and pain, life and death, 
honour and dishonour, prosperity and adversity. 

There are two stages of bhakti. The first is known as Vaidhi— Bhakti, or love of God qualified 
by scriptural injunctions. For the devotees of this stage are prescribed regular and methodical 
worship, hymns, prayers, the repetition of God's name, and the chanting of His glories. This lower 
bhakti in course of time matures into Para-Bhakti, or supreme devotion, known also as Prema, the 

most intense form of divine love. Divine love is an end in itself. It exists potentially in all human 
hearts, but in the case of bound creatures it is misdirected to earthly objects. 

To develop the devotee's love for God, Vaishnavism humanises God. God is to be regarded 
as the devotee's Parent, Master, Friend, Child, Husband, or Sweetheart, each succeeding 
relationship representing an intensification of love. These Bhavas, or attitudes toward God, are 
known as Santa, Dasya, Sakhya, Vatsalya, and Madhur. The rishis of the Vedas, Hanuman, the 
cowherd boys of Vrindavan, Rama's mother Kausalya, and Radhika, Krishna's sweetheart, 
exhibited, respectively, the most perfect examples of these forms. In the ascending scale the 
glories of God are gradually forgotten and the devotee realizes more and more the intimacy of 
divine communion. Finally he regards himself as the mistress of his Beloved, and no artificial 
barrier remains to separate him from his Ideal. No social or moral obligation can bind to the earth 
his soaring spirit. He experiences perfect union with the Godhead. Unlike the Vedantist, who 
strives to transcend all varieties of the subject-object relationship, a devotee of the Vaishnava path 
wishes to retain both his own individuality and the personality of God. To him God is not an 
intangible Absolute, but the Purushottama, the Supreme Person. 

While practising the discipline of the Madhur Bhava, the male devotee often regards 
himself as a woman, in order to develop the most intense form of love for Sri Krishna, the only 
Purusha, or man, in the universe. This assumption of the attitude of the opposite sex has a deep 
psychological significance. It is a matter of common experience that an idea may be cultivated to 
such an intense degree that every idea alien to it is driven from the mind. This peculiarity of the 
mind may he utilised for the subjugation of the lower desires and the development of the spiritual 
nature. Now, the idea which is the basis of all desires and passions in a man is the conviction of his 
indissoluble association with a male body. If he can inoculate himself thoroughly with the idea that 
he is a woman, he can get rid of the desires peculiar to his male body. Again, the idea that he is a 
woman may in turn be made to give way to another higher idea, namely, that he is neither man 
nor woman, but the Impersonal Spirit. The Impersonal Spirit alone can enjoy real communion with 
the Impersonal God. Hence the highest realization of the Vaishnava draws close to the 
transcendental experience of the Vedantist. 

A beautiful expression of the Vaishnava worship of God through love is to be found in the 
Vrindavan episode of the Bhagavata. The gopis, or milk-maids, of Vrindavan regarded the 
six-year-old Krishna as their Beloved. They sought no personal gain or happiness from this love. 
They surrendered to Krishna their bodies, minds, and souls. Of all the gopis, Radhika, or Radha, 
because of her intense love for Him, was the closest to Krishna. She manifested Maha-bhava and 
was united with her Beloved. This union represents, through sensuous language, a supersensuous 

Sri Chaitanya, also known as Gauranga, Gora, or Nimai, born in Bengal in 1485 and regarded 
as an Incarnation of God, is a great prophet of the Vaishnava religion. Chaitanya declared the 
chanting of God's name to be the most efficacious spiritual discipline for the Kali-Yuga. 

Sri Ramakrishna, as the monkey Hanuman, had already worshipped God as his Master. 
Through his devotion to Kali he had worshipped God as his Mother. He was now to take up the 
other relationships prescribed by the Vaishnava scriptures. 


About the year 1864 there came to Dakshineswar a wandering Vaishnava monk, Jatadhari, 
whose Ideal Deity was Rama. He always carried with him a small metal image of the Deity, which 
he called by the endearing name of Ramlala, the Boy Rama. Toward this little image he displayed 
the tender affection of Kausalya for her divine Son, Rama. As a result of lifelong spiritual practice 
he had actually found in the metal image the presence of his Ideal. Ramlala was no longer for him 
a metal image, but the living God. He devoted himself to nursing Rama, feeding Rama, playing with 
Rama, taking Rama for a walk, and bathing Rama. And he found that the image responded to his 

Sri Ramakrishna, much impressed with his devotion, requested Jatadhari to spend a few 
days at Dakshineswar. Soon Ramlala became the favourite companion of Sri Ramakrishna too. 
Later on he described to the devotees how the little image would dance gracefully before him, 
jump on his back, insist on being taken in his arms, run to the fields in the sun, pluck flowers from 
the bushes, and play pranks like a naughty boy. A very sweet relationship sprang up between him 
and Ramlala, for whom he felt the love of a mother. 

One day Jatadhari requested Sri Ramakrishna to keep the image and bade him adieu with 
tearful eyes. He declared that Ramlala had fulfilled his innermost prayer and that he now had no 
more need of formal worship. A few days later Sri Ramakrishna was blessed through Ramlala with 
a vision of Ramachandra, whereby he realized that the Rama of the Ramayana, the son of 
Dasaratha, pervades the whole universe as Spirit and Consciousness; that He is its Creator, 
Sustainer, and Destroyer; that, in still another aspect, He is the transcendental Brahman, without 
form, attribute, or name. 

While worshipping Ramlala as the Divine Child, Sri Ramakrishna's heart became filled with 
motherly tenderness, and he began to regard himself as a woman. His speech and gestures 
changed. He began to move freely with the ladies of Mathur's family, who now looked upon him as 
one of their own sex. During this time he worshipped the Divine Mother as Her companion or 


Sri Ramakrishna now devoted himself to scaling the most inaccessible and dizzy heights of 
dualistic worship, namely, the complete union with Sri Krishna as the Beloved of the heart. He 
regarded himself as one of the gopis of Vrindavan, mad with longing for her divine Sweetheart. At 
his request Mathur provided him with woman's dress and jewellery. In this love pursuit, food and 
drink were forgotten. Day and night he wept bitterly. The yearning turned into a mad frenzy; for 
the divine Krishna began to play with him the old tricks He had played with the gopis. He would 
tease and taunt, now and then revealing Himself, but always keeping at a distance. Sri 
Ramakrishna's anguish brought on a return of the old physical symptoms: the burning sensation, 

an oozing of blood through the pores, a loosening of the joints, and the stopping of physiological 

The Vaishnava scriptures advise one to propitiate Radha and obtain her grace in order to 
realize Sri Krishna. So the tortured devotee now turned his prayer to her. Within a short time he 
enjoyed her blessed vision. He saw and felt the figure of Radha disappearing into his own body. 

He said later on: "It is impossible to describe the heavenly beauty and sweetness of Radha. 
Her very appearance showed that she had completely forgotten herself in her passionate 
attachment to Krishna. Her complexion was a light yellow." 

Now one with Radha, he manifested the great ecstatic love, the Maha-bhava which had 
found in her its fullest expression. Later Sri Ramakrishna said: "The manifestation in the same 
individual of the nineteen different kinds of emotion for God is called, in the books on bhakti, 
Maha-bhava. An ordinary man takes a whole lifetime to express even a single one of these. But in 
this body [meaning himself] there has been a complete manifestation of all nineteen." 

The love of Radha is the precursor of the resplendent vision of Sri Krishna, and Sri 
Ramakrishna soon experienced that vision. The enchanting form of Krishna appeared to him and 
merged in his person. He became Krishna; he totally forgot his own individuality and the world; he 
saw Krishna in himself and in the universe. Thus he attained to the fulfilment of the worship of the 
Personal God. He drank from the fountain of Immortal Bliss. The agony of his heart vanished 
forever. He realized Amrita, Immortality, beyond the shadow of death. 

One day, listening to a recitation of the Bhagavata on the verandah of the Radhakanta 
temple he fell into a divine mood and saw the enchanting form of Krishna. He perceived the 
luminous rays issuing from Krishna's Lotus Feet in the form of a stout rope, which touched first 
the Bhagavata and then his own chest, connecting all three - God, the scripture, and the devotee. 
"After this vision," he used to say, "I came to realize that Bhagavan-Bhakta-and-Bhagavata 
-God-Devotee-and-Scripture -are in reality, one and the same." 


The Brahmani was the enthusiastic teacher and astonished beholder of Sri Ramakrishna in 
his spiritual progress. She became proud of the achievements of her unique pupil. But the pupil 
himself was not permitted to rest; his destiny beckoned him forward. His Divine Mother would 
allow him no respite till he had left behind the entire realm of duality with its visions, experiences, 
and ecstatic dreams. But for the new ascent the old tender guides would not suffice. The 
Brahmani, on whom he had depended for three years saw her son escape from her to follow the 
command of a teacher with masculine strength, a sterner mien, a gnarled physique, and a virile 
voice. The new guru was a wandering monk, the sturdy Totapuri, whom Sri Ramakrishna learnt to 
address affectionately as Nangta, the "Naked One", because of his total renunciation of all earthly 
objects and attachments, including even a piece of wearing-cloth. 

Totapuri was the bearer of a philosophy new to Sri Ramakrishna, the non-dualistic Vedanta 
philosophy, whose conclusions Totapuri had experienced in his own life. This ancient Hindu system 
designates the Ultimate Reality as Brahman, also described as Satchidananda, 

Existence-Knowledge-Bliss Absolute. Brahman is the only Real Existence. In It there is no time, no 
space, no causality, no multiplicity. But through Maya, Its inscrutable Power, time, space, and 
causality are created and the One appears to break into the many. The eternal Spirit appears as a 
manifold of individuals endowed with form and subject to the conditions of time. The Immortal 
becomes a victim of birth and death. The Changeless undergoes change. The sinless Pure Soul, 
hypnotised by Its own Maya, experiences the joys of heaven and the pains of hell. But these 
experiences based on the duality of the subject -object relationship are unreal. Even the vision of a 
Personal God is, ultimately speaking, as illusory as the experience of any other object. Man attains 
his liberation, therefore, by piercing the veil of Maya and rediscovering his total identity with 
Brahman. Knowing himself to be one with the Universal Spirit, he realizes ineffable Peace. Only 
then does he go beyond the fiction of birth and death; only then does he become immortal. And 
this is the ultimate goal of all religions - to dehypnotize the soul now hypnotized by its own 

The path of the Vedantic discipline is the path of negation, "Neti", in which, by stern 
determination, all that is unreal is both negated and renounced. It is the path of jnana, knowledge, 
the direct method of realizing the Absolute. After the negation of everything relative, including the 
discriminating ego itself, the aspirant merges in the One without a Second, in the bliss of nirvikalpa 
Samadhi, where subject and object are alike dissolved. The soul goes beyond the realm of thought. 
The domain of duality is transcended. Maya is left behind with all its changes and modifications. 
The Real Man towers above the delusions of creation, preservation, and destruction. An avalanche 
of indescribable Bliss sweeps away all relative ideas of pain and pleasure, good and evil. There 
shines in the heart the glory of the Eternal Brahman, Existence-Knowledge-Bliss Absolute. Knower, 
knowledge, and known are dissolved in the Ocean of one eternal Consciousness; love, lover, and 
beloved merge in the unbounded Sea of supreme Felicity; birth, growth, and death vanish in 
infinite Existence. All doubts and misgivings are quelled for ever; the oscillations of the mind are 
stopped; the momentum of past actions is exhausted. Breaking down the ridge-pole of the 
tabernacle in which the soul has made its abode for untold ages, stilling the body, calming the 
mind, drowning the ego, the sweet joy of Brahman wells up in that superconscious state. Space 
disappears into nothingness, time is swallowed in eternity, and causation becomes a dream of the 
past. Only Existence is. Ah! Who can describe what the soul then feels in its communion with the 

Even when man descends from this dizzy height, he is devoid of ideas of "I" and "mine"; he 
looks on the body as a mere shadow, an outer sheath encasing the soul. He does not dwell on the 
past, takes no thought for the future, and looks with indifference on the present. He surveys 
everything in the world with an eye of equality; he is no longer touched by the infinite variety of 
phenomena; he no longer reacts to pleasure and pain. He remains unmoved whether he - that is to 
say, his body - is worshipped by the good or tormented by the wicked; for he realizes that it is the 
one Brahman that manifests Itself through everything. The impact of such an experience 
devastates the body and mind. Consciousness becomes blasted, as it were, with an excess of Light. 
In the Vedanta books it is said that after the experience of nirvikalpa Samadhi the body drops off 
like a dry leaf. Only those who are born with a special mission for the world can return from this 

height to the valleys of normal life. They live and move in the world for the welfare of mankind. 
They are invested with a supreme spiritual power. A divine glory shines through them. 


Totapuri arrived at the Dakshineswar temple garden toward the end of 1864. Perhaps born 
in the Punjab, he was the head of a monastery in that province of India and claimed leadership of 
seven hundred sannyasis. Trained from early youth in the disciplines of the Advaita Vedanta, he 
looked upon the world as an illusion. The gods and goddesses of the dualistic worship were to him 
mere fantasies of the deluded mind. Prayers, ceremonies, rites, and rituals had nothing to do with 
true religion, and about these he was utterly indifferent. Exercising self-exertion and unshakable 
will-power, he had liberated himself from attachment to the sense-objects of the relative universe. 
For forty years he had practised austere discipline on the bank of the sacred Narmada and had 
finally realized his identity with the Absolute. Thenceforward he roamed in the world as an 
unfettered soul, a lion free from the cage. Clad in a loin-cloth, he spent his days under the canopy 
of the sky alike in storm and sunshine, feeding his body on the slender pittance of alms. He had 
been visiting the estuary of the Ganges. On his return journey along the bank of the sacred river, 
led by the inscrutable Divine Will, he stopped at Dakshineswar. 

Totapuri, discovering at once that Sri Ramakrishna was prepared to be a student of 
Vedanta, asked to initiate him into its mysteries. With the permission of the Divine Mother, Sri 
Ramakrishna agreed to the proposal. But Totapuri explained that only a sannyasi could receive the 
teaching of Vedanta. Sri Ramakrishna agreed to renounce the world, but with the stipulation that 
the ceremony of his initiation into the monastic order be performed in secret, to spare the feelings 
of his old mother, who had been living with him at Dakshineswar. 

On the appointed day, in the small hours of the morning, a fire was lighted in the 
Panchavati. Totapuri and Sri Ramakrishna sat before it. The flame played on their faces. 
"Ramakrishna was a small brown man with a short beard and beautiful eyes, long dark eyes, full of 
light, obliquely set and slightly veiled, never very wide open, but seeing half-closed a great 
distance both outwardly and inwardly. His mouth was open over his white teeth in a bewitching 
smile, at once affectionate and misch ievous. Of medium height, he was thin to emaciation and 
extremely delicate. His temperament was high-strung, for he was supersensitive to all the winds of 
joy and sorrow, both moral and physical. He was indeed a living reflection of all that happened 
before the mirror of his eyes, a two-sided mirror, turned both out and in." Facing him, the other 
rose like a rock. He was very tall and robust, a sturdy and tough oak. His constitution and mind 
were of iron. He was the strong leader of men. 

In the burning flame before him Sri Ramakrishna performed the rituals of destroying his 
attachment to relatives, friends, body, mind, sense-organs, ego, and the world. The leaping 
flame swallowed it all, making the initiate free and pure. The sacred thread and the tuft of hair 
were consigned to the fire, completing his severance from caste, sex, and society. Last of all he 
burnt in that fire, with all that is holy as his witness, his desire for enjoyment here and hereafter. 
He uttered the sacred mantras giving assurance of safety and fearlessness to all beings, who were 

only manifestations of his own Self. The rites completed, the disciple received from the guru the 
loincloth and ochre robe, the emblems of his new life. 

The teacher and the disciple repaired to the meditation room near by. Totapuri began to 
impart to Sri Ramakrishna the great truths of Vedanta. "Brahman", he said, "is the only Reality, 
ever pure, ever illumined, ever free, beyond the limits of time, space, and causation. Though 
apparently divided by names and forms through the inscrutable power of Maya, that enchantress 
who makes the impossible possible, Brahman is really One and undivided. When a seeker merges 
in the beatitude of Samadhi, he does not perceive time and space or name and form, the offspring 
of Maya. Whatever is within the domain of Maya is unreal. Give it up. Destroy the prison-house of 
name and form and rush out of it with the strength of a lion. Dive deep in search of the Self and 
realize It through Samadhi. You will find the world of name and form vanishing into void, and the 
puny ego dissolving in Brahman-Consciousness. You will realize your identity with Brahman, 
Existence-Knowledge-Bliss Absolute." Quoting the Upanishad, Totapuri said "That knowledge is 
shallow by which one sees or hears or knows another. What is shallow is worthless and can never 
give real felicity. But the Knowledge by which one does not see another or hear another or know 
another, which is beyond duality, is great, and through such Knowledge one attains the Infinite 
Bliss. How can the mind and senses grasp That which shines in the heart of all as the Eternal 

Totapuri asked the disciple to withdraw his mind from all objects of relative world, including 
the gods and goddesses, and to concentrate on the Absolute. But the task was not easy even for 
Sri Ramakrishna. He found it impossible to take his mind beyond Kali, the Divine Mother of the 
Universe. "After the initiation", Sri Ramakrishna once said, describing the event, "Nangta began to 
teach me the various conclusions of the Advaita Vedanta and asked me to withdraw the mind 
completely from all objects and dive deep into the Atman. But in spite of all my attempts I could 
not altogether cross the realm of name and form and bring my mind to the unconditioned state. I 
had no difficulty in taking the mind from all the objects of the world. But the radiant and too 
familiar figure of the Blissful Mother, the Embodiment of the essence of Pure Consciousness, 
appeared before me as a living reality. Her bewitching smile prevented me from passing into the 
Great Beyond. Again and again I tried, but She stood in my way every time. In despair I said to 
Nangta: 'It is hopeless. I cannot raise my mind to the unconditioned state and come face to face 
with Atman.' He grew excited and sharply said: 'What? You can't do it? But you have to.' He cast 
his eyes around. Finding a piece of glass he took it up and stuck it between my eyebrows. 
'Concentrate the mind on this point!' he thundered. Then with stern determination I again sat to 
meditate. As soon as the gracious form of the Divine Mother appeared before me, I used my 
discrimination as a sword and with it clove Her in two. The last barrier fell. My spirit at once soared 
beyond the relative plane and I lost myself in Samadhi." 

Sri Ramakrishna remained completely absorbed in Samadhi for three days. "Is it really 
true?" Totapuri cried out in astonishment. "Is it possible that he has attained in a single day what it 
took me forty years of strenuous practice to achieve? Great God! It is nothing short of a miracle!" 
With the help of Totapuri, Sri Ramakrishna's mind finally came down to the relative Plane. 

Totapuri, a monk of the most orthodox type, never stayed at a place more than three days. 
But he remained at Dakshineswar eleven months. He too had something to learn. 

Totapuri had no idea of the struggles of ordinary men in the toils of passion and desire. 
Having maintained all through life the guilelessness of a child, he laughed at the idea of a man's 
being led astray by the senses. He was convinced that the world, was Maya and had only to be 
denounced to vanish for ever. A born non-dualist, he had no faith in a Personal God. He did not 
believe in the terrible aspect of Kali, much less in Her benign aspect. Music and the chanting of 
God's holy name were to him only so much nonsense. He ridiculed the spending of emotion on the 
worship of a Personal God. 


Sri Ramakrishna, on the other hand, though fully aware, like his guru, that the world is an 
illusory appearance, instead of slighting Maya, like an orthodox monist, acknowledged its power in 
the relative life. He was all love and reverence for Maya, perceiving in it a mysterious and majestic 
expression of Divinity. To him Maya itself was God, for everything was God. It was one of the faces 
of Brahman. What he had realized on the heights of the transcendental plane, he also found here 
below, everywhere about him, under the mysterious garb of names and forms. And this garb was a 
perfectly transparent sheath, through which he recognized the glory of the Divine Immanence. 
Maya, the mighty weaver of the garb, is none other than Kali, the Divine Mother. She is the 
primordial Divine Energy, Sakti, and She can no more be distinguished from the Supreme Brahman 
than can the power of burning be distinguished from fire. She projects the world and again 
withdraws it. She spins it as the spider spins its web. She is the Mother of the Universe, identical 
with the Brahman of Vedanta, and with the Atman of Yoga. As eternal Lawgiver, She makes and 
unmakes laws; it is by Her imperious will that karma yields its fruit. She ensnares men with illusion 
and again releases them from bondage with a look of Her benign eyes. She is the supreme 
Mistress of the cosmic play, and all objects, animate and inanimate, dance by Her will. Even those 
who realize the Absolute in nirvikalpa Samadhi are under Her jurisdiction as long as they still live 
on the relative plane. 

Thus, after Nirvikalpa Samadhi, Sri Ramakrishna realized Maya in an altogether new role. 
The binding aspect of Kali vanished from before his vision. She no longer obscured his 
understanding. The world became the glorious manifestation of the Divine Mother. Maya became 
Brahman. The Transcendental Itself broke through the Immanent. Sri Ramakrishna discovered that 
Maya operates in the relative world in two ways, and he termed these "Avidya-Maya" and 
"Vidya-Maya". Avidya-Maya represents the dark forces of creation: sensuous desires, evil 
passions, greed, lust, cruelty, and so on. It sustains the world system on the lower planes. It is 
responsible for the round of man's birth and death. It must be fought and vanquished. But 
Vidya-Maya is the higher force of creation: the spiritual virtues, the enlightening qualities, 
kindness, purity, love, devotion. Vidya-Maya elevates man to the higher planes of consciousness. 
With the help of Vidya- Maya the devotee rids himself of Avidya-Maya; he then becomes 
Mayatita, free of Maya. The two aspects of Maya are the two forces of creation, the two powers of 
Kali; and She stands beyond them both. She is like the effulgent sun, bringing into existence and 

shining through and standing behind the clouds of different colours and shapes, conjuring up 
wonderful forms in the blue autumn heaven. 

The Divine Mother asked Sri Ramakrishna not to be lost in the featureless Absolute but to 
remain in Bhava-mukha, on the threshold of relative consciousness, the border line between the 
Absolute and the Relative. He was to keep himself at the "sixth centre" of Tantra, from which he 
could see not only the glory of the seventh, but also the divine manifestations of the Kundalini in 
the lower centres. He gently oscillated back and forth across the dividing line. Ecstatic devotion to 
the Divine Mother alternated with serene absorption in the Ocean of Absolute Unity. He thus 
bridged the gulf between the Personal and the Impersonal, the immanent and the transcendent 
aspects of Reality. This is a unique experience in the recorded spiritual history of the world. 

totApuris lesson 

From Sri Ramakrishna Totapuri had to learn the significance of Kali, the Great Fact of the 
relative world, and of Maya, Her indescribable Power. 

One day, when guru and disciple were engaged in an animated discussion about Vedanta, a 
servant of the temple garden came there and took a coal from the sacred fire that had been 
lighted by the great ascetic. He wanted it to light his tobacco. Totapuri flew into a rage and was 
about to beat the man. Sri Ramakrishna rocked with laughter. "What a shame!" he cried. "You are 
explaining to me the reality of Brahman and the illusoriness of the world; yet now you have so far 
forgotten yourself as to be about to beat a man in a fit of passion. The power of Maya is indeed 
inscrutable!" Totapuri was embarrassed. 

About this time Totapuri was suddenly laid up with a severe attack of dysentery. On account 
of this miserable illness he found it impossible to meditate. One night the pain became 
excruciating. He could no longer concentrate on Brahman. The body stood in the way. He became 
incensed with its demands. A free soul, he did not at all care for the body. So he determined to 
drown it in the Ganges. Thereupon he walked into the river. But, lo! He walks to the other bank. Is 
there not enough water in the Ganges? Standing dumbfounded on the other bank he looks back 
across the water. The trees, the temples, the houses, are silhouetted against the sky. Suddenly, in 
one dazzling moment, he sees on all sides the presence of the Divine Mother. She is in everything; 
She is everything. She is in the water; She is on land. She is the body; She is the mind. She is pain; 
She is comfort. She is knowledge; She is ignorance. She is life; She is death. She is everything that 
one sees, hears, or imagines. She turns "yea" into "nay", and "nay" into "yea". Without Her grace 
no embodied being can go beyond Her realm. Man has no free will. He is not even free to die. Yet, 
again, beyond the body and mind She resides in Her Transcendental Absolute aspect. She is the 
Brahman that Totapuri had been worshipping all his life. 

Totapuri returned to Dakshineswar and spent the remaining hours of the night meditating 
on the Divine Mother. In the morning he went to the Kali temple with Sri Ramakrishna and 
prostrated himself before the image of the Mother. He now realized why he had spent eleven 
months at Dakshineswar. Bidding farewell to the disciple, he continued on his way, enlightened. 

Sri Ramakrishna later described the significance of Totapuri's lessons: "When I think of the 
Supreme Being as inactive - neither creating nor preserving nor destroying -, I call Him Brahman or 
Purusha, the Impersonal God. When I think of Him as active - creating, preserving, and destroying 
-, I call Him Sakti or Maya or Prakriti, the Personal God. But the distinction between them does not 
mean a difference. The Personal and the Impersonal are the same thing, like milk and its 
whiteness, the diamond and its lustre, the snake and its wriggling motion. It is impossible to 
conceive of the one without the other. The Divine Mother and Brahman are one." 

After the departure of Totapuri, Sri Ramakrishna remained for six months in a state of 
absolute identity with Brahman. "For six months at a stretch", he said, "I remained in that state 
from which ordinary men can never return; generally the body falls off, after three weeks, like a 
sere leaf. I was not conscious of day and night. Flies would enter my mouth and nostrils just as 
they do a dead body's, but I did not feel them. My hair became matted with dust." 

His body would not have survived but for the kindly attention of a monk who happened to 
be at Dakshineswar at that time and who somehow realized that for the good of humanity Sri 
Ramakrishna's body must be preserved. He tried various means, even physical violence, to recall 
the fleeing soul to the prison-house of the body, and during the resultant fleeting moments of 
consciousness he would push a few morsels of food down Sri Ramakrishna's throat. Presently Sri 
Ramakrishna received the command of the Divine Mother to remain on the threshold of relative 
consciousness. Soon thereafter he was afflicted with a serious attack of dysentery. Day and night 
the pain tortured him, and his mind gradually came down to the physical plane. 


From now on Sri Ramakrishna began to seek the company of devotees and holy men. He 
had gone through the storm and stress of spiritual disciplines and visions. Now he realized an inner 
calmness and appeared to others as a normal person. But he could not bear the company of 
worldly people or listen to their talk. Fortunately the holy atmosphere of Dakshineswar and the 
liberality of Mathur attracted monks and holy men from all parts of the country. Sadhus of all 
denominations - monists and dualists, Vaishnavas and Vedantists, Saktas and worshippers of Rama 
- flocked there in ever increasing numbers. Ascetics and visionaries came to seek Sri Ramakrishna's 
advice. Vaishnavas had come during the period of his Vaishnava sadhana, and Tantriks when he 
practised the disciplines of Tantra. Vedantists began to arrive after the departure of Totapuri. In 
the room of Sri Ramakrishna, who was then in bed with dysentery, the Vedantists engaged in 
scriptural discussions, and, forgetting his own physical suffering, he solved their doubts by 
referring directly to his own experiences. Many of the visitors were genuine spiritual souls, the 
unseen pillars of Hinduism, and their spiritual lives were quickened in no small measure by the 
sage of Dakshineswar. Sri Ramakrishna in turn learnt from them anecdotes concerning the ways 
and the conduct of holy men, which he subsequently narrated to his devotees and disciples. At his 
request Mathur provided him with large stores of foodstuffs, clothes, and so forth, for distribution 
among the wandering monks. 

Sri Ramakrishna had not read books, yet he possessed an encyclopaedic knowledge of 
religions and religious philosophies. This he acquired from his contacts with innumerable holy men 

and scholars. He had a unique power of assimilation; through meditation he made this knowledge 
a part of his being. Once, when he was asked by a disciple about the source of his seemingly 
inexhaustible knowledge, he replied: "I have not read; but I have heard the learned. I have made a 
garland of their knowledge, wearing it round my neck, and I have given it as an offering at the feet 
of the Mother." 

Sri Ramakrishna used to say that when the flower blooms the bees come to it for honey of 
their own accord. Now many souls began to visit Dakshineswar to satisfy their spiritual hunger. He, 
the devotee and aspirant, became the Master. Gauri, the great scholar who had been one of the 
first to proclaim Sri Ramakrishna an Incarnation of God, paid the Master a visit in 1870 and with 
the Master's blessings renounced the world. Narayan Sastri, another great pundit, who had 
mastered the six systems of Hindu philosophy and had been offered a lucrative post by the 
Maharaja of Jaipur, met the Master and recognized in him one who had realized in life those ideals 
which he himself had encountered merely in books. Sri Ramakrishna initiated Narayan Sastri, at his 
earnest request, into the life of sannyas. Pundit Padmalochan, the court pundit of the Maharaja of 
Burdwan, well known for his scholarship in both the Vedanta and the Nyaya systems of 
philosophy, accepted the Master as an Incarnation of God. Krishnakishore, a Vedantist scholar, 
became devoted to the Master. And there arrived Viswanath Upadhyaya, who was to become a 
favourite devotee; Sri Ramakrishna always addressed 

him as "Captain". He was a high officer of the King of Nepal and had received the title of 
Colonel in recognition of his merit. A scholar of the Gita, the Bhagavata, and the Vedanta 
philosophy, he daily performed the worship of his Chosen Deity with great devotion. "I have read 
the Vedas and the other scriptures", he said. "I have also met a good many monks and devotees in 
different places. But it is in Sri Ramakrishna's presence that my spiritual yearnings have been 
fulfilled. To me he seems to be the embodiment of the truths of the scriptures." 

The Knowledge of Brahman in nirvikalpa Samadhi had convinced Sri Ramakrishna that the 
gods of the different religions are but so many readings of the Absolute, and that the Ultimate 
Reality could never be expressed by human tongue. He understood that all religions lead their 
devotees by differing paths to one and the same goal. Now he became eager to explore some of 
the alien religions; for with him understanding meant actual experience. 


Toward the end of 1866 he began to practise the disciplines of Islam. Under the direction of 
his Mussalman guru he abandoned himself to his new sadhana. He dressed as a Mussalman and 
repeated the name of Allah. 

His prayers took the form of the Islamic devotions. He forgot the Hindu gods and goddesses 
- even Kali - and gave up visiting the temples. He took up his residence outside the temple 
precincts. After three days he saw the vision of a radiant figure, perhaps Mohammed. This figure 
gently approached him and finally lost himself in Sri Ramakrishna. Thus he realized the Mussalman 
God. Thence he passed into communion with Brahman. The mighty river of Islam also led him back 
to the Ocean of the Absolute. 


Eight years later, some time in November 1874, Sri Ramakrishna was seized with an 
irresistible desire to learn the truth of the Christian religion. He began to listen to readings from 
the Bible, by Sambhu Charan Mallick, a gentleman of Calcutta and a devotee of the Master. Sri 
Ramakrishna became fascinated by the life and teachings of Jesus. One day he was seated in the 
parlour of Jadu Mallick's garden house at Dakshineswar, when his eyes became fixed on a painting 
of the Madonna and Child. Intently watching it, he became gradually overwhelmed with divine 
emotion. The figures in the picture took on life, and the rays of light emanating from them entered 
his soul. The effect of this experience was stronger than that of the vision of Mohammed. In 
dismay he cried out, "0 Mother! What are You doing to me?" And, breaking through the barriers 
of creed and religion, he entered a new realm of ecstasy. Christ possessed his soul. For three days 
he did not set foot in the Kali temple. On the fourth day, in the afternoon, as he was walking in the 
Panchavati, he saw coming toward him a person with beautiful large eyes, serene countenance, 
and fair skin. As the two faced each other, a voice rang out in the depths of Sri Ramakrishna's soul: 
"Behold the Christ who shed His heart's blood for the redemption of the world, who suffered a sea 
of anguish for love of men. It is He, the Master Yogi, who is in eternal union with God. It is Jesus, 
Love Incarnate." The Son of Man embraced the Son of the Divine Mother and merged in him. 

Sri Ramakrishna realized his identity with Christ, as he had already realized his identity with 
Kali, Rama, Hanuman, Radha, Krishna, Brahman, and Mohammed. The Master went into Samadhi 
and communed with the Brahman with attributes. Thus he experienced the truth that Christianity, 
too, was a path leading to God-Consciousness. Till the last moment of his life he believed that 
Christ was an Incarnation of God. But Christ, for him, was not the only Incarnation; there were 
others - Buddha, for instance, and Krishna. 


Sri Ramakrishna accepted the divinity of Buddha and used to point out the similarity of his 
teachings to those of the Upanishads. He also showed great respect for the Tirthankaras, who 
founded Jainism, and for the ten Gurus of Sikhism. But he did not speak of them as Divine 
Incarnations. He was heard to say that the Gurus of Sikhism were the reincarnations of King Janaka 
of ancient India. He kept in his room at Dakshineswar a small statue of Tirthankara Mahavira and a 
picture of Christ, before which incense was burnt morning and evening. 

Without being formally initiated into their doctrines, Sri Ramakrishna thus realized the 
ideals of religions other than Hinduism. He did not need to follow any doctrine. All barriers were 
removed by his overwhelming love of God. So he became a Master who could speak with authority 
regarding the ideas and ideals of the various religions of the world. "I have practised", said he, "all 
religions - Hinduism, Islam, Christianity - and I have also followed the paths of the different Hindu 
sects. I have found that it is the same God toward whom all are directing their steps, though along 
different paths. You must try all beliefs and traverse all the different ways once. Wherever I look, I 
see men quarrelling in the name of religion - Hindus, Mohammedans, Brahmos, Vaishnavas, and 
the rest. But they never reflect that He who is called Krishna is also called Siva, and bears the name 
of the Primal Energy, Jesus, and Allah as well - the same Rama with a thousand names. A lake has 
several Ghats. At one, the Hindus take water in pitchers and call it 'Jal'; at another the Mussalmans 

take water in leather bags and call it 'pani'. At a third the Christians call it 'water'. Can we imagine 
that it is not 'jal', but only 'pani' or 'water'? How ridiculous! The substance is One under different 
names, and everyone is seeking the same substance; only climate, temperament, and name create 
differences. Let each man follow his own path. If he sincerely and ardently wishes to know God, 
peace be unto him! He will surely realize Him." 

In 1867, Sri Ramakrishna returned to Kamarpukur to recuperate from the effect of his 
austerities. The peaceful countryside, the simple and artless companions of his boyhood, and the 
pure air did him much good. The villagers were happy to get back their playful, frank, witty, 
kind-hearted, and truthful Gadadhar, though they did not fail to notice the great change that had 
come over him during his years in Calcutta. His wife, Sarada Devi, now fourteen years old, soon 
arrived at Kamarpukur. Her spiritual development was much beyond her age and she was able to 
understand immediately her husband's state of mind. She became eager to learn from him about 
God and to live with him as his attendant. The Master accepted her cheerfully both as his disciple 
and as his spiritual companion. Referring to the experiences of these few days, she once said: "I 
used to feel always as if a pitcher full of bliss were placed in my heart. The joy was indescribable." 


On January 27, 1868, Mathur Babu with a party of some one hundred and twenty-five 
persons set out on a pilgrimage to the sacred places of northern India. At Vaidyanath in Behar, 
when the Master saw the inhabitants of a village reduced by poverty and starvation to mere 
skeletons, he requested his rich patron to feed the people and give each a piece of cloth. Mathur 
demurred at the added expense. The Master declared bitterly that he would not go on to Banaras, 
but would live with the poor and share their miseries. He actually left Mathur and sat down with 
the villagers. 

Whereupon Mathur had to yield. On another occasion, two years later, Sri Ramakrishna 
showed a similar sentiment for the poor and needy. He accompanied Mathur on a tour to one of 
the latter's estates at the time of the collection of rents. For two years the harvests had failed and 
the tenants were in a state of extreme poverty. The Master asked Mathur to remit their rents, 
distribute help to them, and in addition give the hungry people a sumptuous feast. When Mathur 
grumbled, the Master said: "You are only the steward of the Divine Mother. They are the Mother's 
tenants. You must spend the Mother's money. When they are suffering, how can you refuse to 
help them? You must help them." Again Mathur had to give in. Sri Ramakrishna's sympathy for the 
poor sprang from his perception of God in all created beings. His sentiment was not that of the 
humanist or philanthropist. To him the service of man was the same as the worship of God. 

The party entered holy Banaras by boat along the Ganges. When Sri Ramakrishna's eyes fell 
on this city of Siva, where had accumulated for ages the devotion and piety of countless 
worshippers, he saw it to be made of gold, as the scriptures declare. He was visibly moved. During 
his stay in the city he treated every particle of its earth with utmost respect. At the Manikarnika 
Ghat, the great cremation ground of the city, he actually saw Siva, with ash-covered body and 
tawny matted hair, serenely approaching each funeral pyre and breathing into the ears of the 
corpses the mantra of liberation; and then the Divine Mother removing from the dead their bonds. 

Thus he realized the significance of the scriptural statement that anyone dying in Banaras attains 
salvation through the grace of Siva. He paid a visit to Trailanga Swami, the celebrated monk, whom 
he later declared to be a real paramahamsa, a veritable image of Siva. 

Sri Ramakrishna visited Allahabad, at the confluence of the Ganges and the Jamuna, and 
then proceeded to Vrindavan and Mathura, hallowed by the legends, songs, and dramas about 
Krishna and the gopis. Here he had numerous visions and his heart overflowed with divine 
emotion. He wept and said: "0 Krishna! Everything here is as it was in the olden days. You alone 
are absent." He visited the great woman saint Gangamayi, regarded by Vaishnava devotees as the 
reincarnation of an intimate attendant of Radha. She was sixty years old and had frequent trances. 
She spoke of Sri Ramakrishna as an incarnation of Radha. With great difficulty he was persuaded to 
leave her. 

On the return journey Mathur wanted to visit Gaya, but Sri Ramakrishna declined to go. He 
recalled his father's vision at Gaya before his own birth and felt that in the temple of Vishnu he 
would become permanently absorbed in God. Mathur, honouring the Master's wish, returned with 
his party to Calcutta. 

From Vrindavan the Master had brought a handful of dust. Part of this he scattered in the 
Panchavati; the rest he buried in the little hut where he had practised meditation. "Now this 
place", he said, "is as sacred as Vrindavan." 

In 1870 the Master went on a pilgrimage to Nadia, the birth-place of Sri Chaitanya. As the 
boat by which he travelled approached the sand-bank close to Nadia, Sri Ramakrishna had a vision 
of the "two brothers", Sri Chaitanya and his companion Nityananda, "bright as molten gold" and 
with haloes, rushing to greet him with uplifted hands. "There they come! There they come!" he 
cried. They entered his body and he went into a deep trance. 


In 1872, Sarada Devi paid her first visit to her husband at Dakshineswar. Four years earlier 
she had seen him at Kamarpukur and had tasted the bliss of his divine company. Since then she 
had become even more gentle, tender, introspective, serious, and unselfish. She had heard many 
rumours about her husband's insanity. People had shown her pity in her misfortune. The more she 
thought, the more she felt that her duty was to be with him, giving him, in whatever measure she 
could, a wife's devoted service. She was now eighteen years old. Accompanied by her father, she 
arrived at Dakshineswar, having come on foot the distance of eighty miles. She had had an attack 
of fever on the way. When she arrived at the temple garden the Master said sorrowfully: "Ah! You 
have come too late. My Mathur is no longer here to look after you." Mathur had passed away the 
previous year. 

The Master took up the duty of instructing his young wife, and this included everything 
from housekeeping to the Knowledge of Brahman. He taught her how to trim a lamp, how to 
behave toward people according to their differing temperaments, and how to conduct herself 
before visitors. He instructed her in the mysteries of spiritual life prayer, meditation, japa, deep 
contemplation, and Samadhi. The first lesson that Sarada Devi received was: "God is everybody's 

Beloved, just as the moon is dear to every child. Everyone has the same right to pray to Him. Out 
of His grace He reveals Himself to all who call upon Him. You too will see Him if you but pray to 

Totapuri, coming to know of the Master's marriage, had once remarked: "What does it 
matter? He alone is firmly established in the Knowledge of Brahman who can adhere to his spirit of 
discrimination and renunciation even while living with his wife. He alone has attained the supreme 
illumination who can look on man and woman alike as Brahman. A man with the idea of sex may 
be a good aspirant, but he is still far from the goal." Sri Ramakrishna and his wife lived together at 
Dakshineswar, but their minds always soared above the worldly plane. A few months after Sarada 
Devi's arrival Sri Ramakrishna arranged, on an auspicious day, a special worship of Kali, the Divine 
Mother. Instead of an image of the Deity, he placed on the seat the living image, Sarada Devi 
herself. The worshipper and the worshipped went into deep Samadhi and in the transcendental 
plane their souls were united. After several hours Sri Ramakrishna came down again to the relative 
plane, sang a hymn to the Great Goddess, and surrendered, at the feet of the living image, himself, 
his rosary, and the fruit of his life-long sadhana. This is known in Tantra as the Shodasi Puja, the 
"Adoration of Woman". Sri Ramakrishna realized the significance of the great statement of the 
Upanishad: "0 Lord, Thou art the woman, Thou art the man; Thou art the boy, Thou art the girl; 
Thou art the old, tottering on their crutches. Thou pervadest the universe in its multiple forms." 

By his marriage Sri Ramakrishna admitted the great value of marriage in man's spiritual 
evolution, and by adhering to his monastic vows he demonstrated the imperative necessity of 
self-control, purity, and continence, in the realization of God. By his unique spiritual relationship 
with his wife he proved that husband and wife can live together as spiritual companions. Thus his 
life is a synthesis of the ways of life of the householder and the monk. 


In the nirvikalpa Samadhi Sri Ramakrishna had realized that Brahman alone is real and the 
world illusory. By keeping his mind six months on the plane of the non-dual Brahman, he had 
attained to the state of the Vijnani, the Knower of Truth in a special and very rich sense, who sees 
Brahman not only in himself and in the transcendental Absolute, but in everything of the world. In 
this state of Vijnana, sometimes, bereft of body-consciousness, he would regard himself as one 
with Brahman; sometimes, conscious of the dual world, he would regard himself as God's devotee, 
servant, or child. In order to enable the Master to work for the welfare of humanity, the Divine 
Mother had kept in him a trace of ego, which he described - according to his mood - as the "ego of 
Knowledge", the "ego of Devotion", the "ego of a child", or the "ego of a servant". In any case this 
ego of the Master, consumed by the fire of the Knowledge of Brahman, was an appearance only, 
like a burnt string. He often referred to this ego as the "ripe ego" in contrast with the ego of the 
bound soul, which he described as the "unripe" or "green" ego. The ego of the bound soul 
identifies itself with the body, relatives, possessions, and the world; but the "ripe ego", illumined 
by Divine Knowledge, knows the body, relatives, possessions, and the world to be unreal and 
establishes a relationship of love with God alone. Through this "ripe ego" Sri Ramakrishna dealt 
with the world and his wife. One day, while stroking his feet, Sarada Devi asked the Master, "What 
do you think of me?" Quick came the answer: "The Mother who is worshipped in the temple is the 

mother who has given birth to my body and is now living in the Nahabat, and it is She again who is 
stroking my feet at this moment. Indeed, I always look on you as the personification of the Blissful 
Mother Kali." 

Sarada Devi, in the company of her husband, had rare spiritual experiences. She said: "I 
have no words to describe my wonderful exaltation of spirit as I watched him in his different 
moods. Under the influence of divine emotion he would sometimes talk on abstruse subjects, 
sometimes laugh, sometimes weep, and sometimes become perfectly motionless in Samadhi. This 
would continue throughout the night. There was such an extraordinary divine presence in him that 
now and then I would shake with fear and wonder how the night would pass. Months went by in 
this way. Then one day he discovered that I had to keep awake the whole night lest, during my 
sleep, he should go into Samadhi - for it might happen at any moment -, and so he asked me to 
sleep in the Nahabat." 


We have now come to the end of Sri Ramakrishna's sadhana, the period of his spiritual 
discipline. As a result of his supersensuous experiences he reached certain conclusions regarding 
himself and spirituality in general. His conclusions about himself may be summarised as follows: 

First, he was an Incarnation of God, a specially commissioned person, whose spiritual 
experiences were for the benefit of humanity. Whereas it takes an ordinary man a whole life's 
struggle to realize one or two phases of God, he had in a few years realized God in all His phases. 

Second, he knew that he had always been a free soul, that the various disciplines through 
which he had passed were really not necessary for his own liberation but were solely for the 
benefit of others. Thus the terms liberation and bondage were not applicable to him. As long as 
there are beings who consider themselves bound, God must come down to earth as an Incarnation 
to free them from bondage, just as a magistrate must visit any part of his district in which there is 

Third, he came to foresee the time of his death. His words with respect to this matter were 
literally fulfilled. 


First, he was firmly convinced that all religions are true, that every doctrinal system 
represents a path to God. He had followed all the main paths and all had led him to the same goal. 
He was the first religious prophet recorded in history to preach the harmony of religions. 

Second, the three great systems of thought known as Dualism, Qualified Non-dualism, and 
Absolute Non-dualism - Dvaita, Visishtadvaita, and Advaita - he perceived to represent three 
stages in man's progress toward the Ultimate Reality. They were not contradictory but 
complementary and suited to different temperaments. For the ordinary man with strong 
attachment to the senses, a dualistic form of religion, prescribing a certain amount of material 
support, such as music and other symbols, is useful. A man of God-realization transcends the idea 
of worldly duties, but the ordinary mortal must perform his duties, striving to be unattached and 

to surrender the results to God. The mind can comprehend and describe the range of thought and 
experience up to the Visistadvaita, and no further. The Advaita, the last word in spiritual 
experience, is something to be felt in Samadhi, for it transcends mind and speech. From the 
highest standpoint, the Absolute and Its manifestation are equally real - the Lord's Name, His 
Abode, and the Lord Himself are of the same spiritual Essence. Everything is Spirit, the difference 
being only in form. 

Third, Sri Ramakrishna realized the wish of the Divine Mother that through him She should 
found a new Order, consisting of those who would uphold the universal doctrines illustrated in his 

Fourth, his spiritual insight told him that those who were having their last birth on the 
mortal plane of existence and those who had sincerely called on the Lord even once in their lives 
must come to him. 

During this period Sri Ramakrishna suffered several bereavements. The first was the death 
of a nephew named, Akshay. After the young man's death Sri Ramakrishna said: "Akshay died 
before my very eyes. But it did not affect me in the least. I stood by and watched a man die. It was 
like a sword being drawn from its scabbard. I enjoyed the scene, and laughed and sang and danced 
over it. They removed the body and cremated it. But the next day as I stood there (pointing to the 
southeast verandah of his room), I felt a racking pain for the loss of Akshay, as if somebody were 
squeezing my heart like a wet towel. I wondered at it and thought that the Mother was teaching 
me a lesson. I was not much concerned even with my own body - much less with a relative. But if 
such was my pain at the loss of a nephew, how much more must be the grief of the householders 
at the loss of their near and dear ones!" In 1871 Mathur died, and some five years later Sambhu 
Mallick - who, after Mathur's passing away, had taken care of the Master's comfort. In 1873 died 
his elder brother Rameswar, and in 1876, his beloved mother. These bereavements left their 
imprint on the tender human heart of Sri Ramakrishna albeit he had realized the immortality of 
the soul and the illusoriness of birth and death. 

In March 1875, about a year before the death of his mother, the Master met Keshab 
Chandra Sen. The meeting was a momentous event for both Sri Ramakrishna and Keshab. Here the 
Master for the first time came into actual contact with a worthy representative of modern India. 


Keshab was the leader of the Brahmo Samaj, one of the two great movements that, during 
the latter part of the nineteenth century, played an important part in shaping the course of the 
renascence of India. The founder of the Brahmo movement had been the great Raja Rammohan 
Roy (1774-1833). Though born in an orthodox brahmin family, Rammohan Roy had shown great 
sympathy for Islam and Christianity. He had gone to Tibet in search of the Buddhist mysteries. 
He had extracted from Christianity its ethical system, but had rejected the divinity of Christ as he 
had denied the Hindu Incarnations. The religion of Islam influenced him, to a great extent, in the 
formulation of his monotheistic doctrines. But he always went back to the Vedas for his spiritual 
inspiration. The Brahmo Samaj, which he founded in 1828, was dedicated to the "worship and 
adoration of the Eternal, the Unsearchable, the Immutable Being, who is the Author and Preserver 

of the Universe". The Samaj was open to all without distinction of colour, creed, caste, nation, or 

The real organizer of the Samaj was Devendranath Tagore (1817-1905), the father of the 
poet Rabindranath. His physical and spiritual beauty, aristocratic aloofness, penetrating intellect, 
and poetic sensibility made him the foremost leader of the educated Bengalis. These addressed 
him by the respectful epithet of Maharshi, the "Great Seer". The Maharshi was a Sanskrit scholar 
and, unlike Raja Rammohan Roy, drew his inspiration entirely from the Upanishads. He was an 
implacable enemy of image worship and also fought to stop the infiltration of Christian ideas into 
the Samaj. He gave the movement its faith and ritual. Under his influence the Brahmo Samaj 
professed One Self-existent Supreme Being who had created the universe out of nothing, the God 
of Truth, Infinite Wisdom, Goodness, and Power, the Eternal and Omnipotent, the One without a 
Second. Man should love Him and do His will, believe in Him and worship Him, and thus merit 
salvation in the world to come. 

By far the ablest leader of the Brahmo movement was Keshab Chandra Sen (18381884). 
Unlike Raja Rammohan Roy and Devendranath Tagore, Keshab was born of a middle-class Bengali 
family and had been brought up in an English school. He did not know Sanskrit and very soon 
broke away from the popular Hindu religion. Even at an early age he came under the spell of Christ 
and professed to have experienced the special favour of John the Baptist, Christ, and St. Paul. 
When he strove to introduce Christ to the Brahmo Samaj, a rupture became inevitable with 
Devendranath. In 1868 Keshab broke with the older leader and founded the Brahmo Samaj of 
India, Devendra retaining leadership of the first Brahmo Samaj, now called the Adi Samaj. 

Keshab possessed a complex nature. When passing through a great moral crisis, he spent 
much of his time in solitude and felt that he heard the voice of God. When a devotional form of 
worship was introduced into the Brahmo Samaj, he spent hours in singing kirtan with his followers. 
He visited England in 1870 and impressed the English people with his musical voice, his simple 
English, and his spiritual fervour. He was entertained by Queen Victoria. Returning to India, he 
founded centres of the Brahmo Samaj in various parts of the country. Not unlike a professor of 
comparative religion in a European university, he began to discover, about the time of his first 
contact with Sri Ramakrishna, the harmony of religions. He became sympathetic toward the Hindu 
gods and goddesses, explaining them in a liberal fashion. Further, he believed that he was called 
by God to dictate to the world God's newly revealed law, the New Dispensation, the Nava-vidhan. 

In 1878 a schism divided Keshab's Samaj. Some of his influential followers accused him of 
infringing the Brahmo principles by marrying his daughter to a wealthy man before she had 
attained the marriageable age approved by the Samaj. This group seceded and established the 
Sadharan Brahmo Samaj, Keshab remaining the leader of the Navavidhan. Keshab now began to be 
drawn more and more toward the Christ ideal, though under the influence of Sri Ramakrishna his 
devotion to the Divine Mother also deepened. His mental oscillation between Christ and the Divine 
Mother of Hinduism found no position of rest. In Bengal and some other parts of India the Brahmo 
movement took the form of Unitarian Christianity, scoffed at Hindu rituals, and preached a 
crusade against image worship. Influenced by Western culture, it declared the supremacy of 
reason, advocated the ideals of the French Revolution, abolished the caste-system among, its own 

members, stood for the emancipation of women, agitate for the abolition of early marriage, 
sanctioned the remarriage of widows, and encouraged various educational and social-reform 
movements. The immediate effect of the Brahmo movement in Bengal was the checking of the 
proselytising activities of the Christian missionaries. It also raised Indian culture in the estimation 
of its English masters. But it was an intellectual and eclectic religious ferment born of the necessity 
of the time. Unlike Hinduism, it was not founded on the deep inner experiences of sages and 
prophets. Its influence was confined to a comparatively few educated men and women of the 
country, and the vast masses of the Hindus remained outside it. It sounded monotonously only 
one of the notes in the rich gamut of the Eternal Religion of the Hindus. 

Arya samAj 

The other movement playing an important part in the nineteenth-century religious revival 
of India was the Arya Samaj. The Brahmo Samaj, essentially a movement of compromise with 
European culture, tacitly admitted the superiority of the West. But the founder of the Arya Samaj 
was a pugnacious Hindu sannyasi who accepted the challenge of Islam and Christianity and was 
resolved to combat all foreign influence in India. Swami Dayananda (1824-1883) launched this 
movement in Bombay in 1875, and soon its influence was felt throughout western India. The 
Swami was a great scholar of the Vedas, which he explained as being strictly mono-theistic. He 
preached against the worship of images and re-established the ancient Vedic sacrificial rites. 
According to him the Vedas were the ultimate authority on religion, and he accepted every word 
of them as literally true. The Arya Samaj became a bulwark against the encroachments of Islam 
and Christianity, and its orthodox flavour appealed to many Hindu minds. It also assumed 
leadership in many movements of social reform. The caste-system became a target of its attack. 
Women it liberated from many of their social disabilities. The cause of education received from it a 
great impetus. It started agitation against early marriage and advocated the remarriage of Hindu 
widows. Its influence was strongest in the Punjab, the battle-ground of the Hindu and Islamic 
cultures. A new fighting attitude was introduced into the slumbering Hindu society. Unlike the 
Brahmo Samaj, the influence of the Arya Samaj was not confined to the intellectuals. It was a force 
that spread to the masses. It was a dogmatic movement intolerant of those disagreed with its 
views, and it emphasized only one way, the Arya Samaj way, to the realization of Truth. Sri 
Ramakrishna met Swami Dayananda when the latter visited Bengal. 


Keshab Chandra Sen and Sri Ramakrishna met for the first time in the garden house of 
Jaygopal Sen at Belgharia, a few miles from Dakshineswar, where the great Brahmo leader was 
staying with some of his disciples. In many respects the two were poles apart, though an 
irresistible inner attraction was to make them intimate friends. The Master had realized God as 
Pure Spirit and Consciousness, but he believed in the various forms of God as well. Keshab, on the 
other hand, regarded image worship as idolatry and gave allegorical explanations of the Hindu 
deities. Keshab was an orator and a writer of books and magazine articles; Sri Ramakrishna had a 
horror of lecturing and hardly knew how to write his own name. Keshab's fame spread far and 
wide, even reaching the distant shores of England; the Master still led a secluded life in the village 
of Dakshineswar. Keshab emphasized social reforms for India's regeneration; to Sri Ramakrishna 

God-realization was the only goal of life. Keshab considered himself a disciple of Christ and 
accepted in a diluted form the Christian sacraments and Trinity; Sri Ramakrishna was the simple 
child of Kali, the Divine Mother, though he too, in a different way, acknowledged Christ's divinity. 
Keshab was a house-holder and took a real interest in the welfare of his children, whereas Sri 
Ramakrishna was a paramahamsa and completely indifferent to the life of the world. Yet, as their 
acquaintance ripened into friendship, Sri Ramakrishna and Keshab held each other in great love 
and respect. Years later, at the news of Keshab's death, the Master felt as if half his body had 
become paralysed. Keshab's concepts of the harmony of religions and the Motherhood of God 
were deepened and enriched by his contact with Sri Ramakrishna. 

Sri Ramakrishna, dressed in a red-bordered dhoti, one end of which was carelessly thrown 
over his left shoulder, came to Jaygopal's garden house accompanied by Hriday. No one took 
notice of the unostentatious visitor. Finally the Master said to Keshab, "People tell me you have 
seen God; so I have come to hear from you about God." A magnificent conversation followed. The 
Master sang a thrilling song about Kali and forthwith went into Samadhi. When Hriday uttered the 
sacred "Om" in his ears, he gradually came back to consciousness of the world, his face still 
radiating a divine brilliance. Keshab and his followers were amazed. The contrast between Sri 
Ramakrishna and the Brahmo devotees was very interesting. There sat this small man, thin and 
extremely delicate. His eyes were illumined with an inner light. Good humour gleamed in his eyes 
and lurked in the corners of his mouth. His speech was Bengali of a homely kind with a slight, 
delightful stammer, and his words held men enthralled by their wealth of spiritual experience, 
their inexhaustible store of simile and metaphor, their power of observation, their bright and 
subtle humour, their wonderful catholicity, their ceaseless flow of wisdom. And around him now 
were the sophisticated men of Bengal, the best products of Western education, with Keshab, the 
idol of young Bengal, as their leader. 

Keshab's sincerity was enough for Sri Ramakrishna. Henceforth the two saw each other 
frequently, either at Dakshineswar or at the temple of the Brahmo Samaj. Whenever the Master 
was in the temple at the time of divine service, Keshab would request him to speak to the 
congregation. And Keshab would visit the saint, in his turn, with offerings of flowers and fruits. 


Gradually other Brahmo leaders began to feel Sri Ramakrishna's influence. But they were by 
no means uncritical admirers of the Master. They particularly disapproved of his ascetic 
renunciation and condemnation of, "woman and gold". 7 They measured him according to their 
own ideals of the householder's life. Some could not understand his Samadhi and described it as a 
nervous malady. Yet they could not resist his magnetic personality. 

Among the Brahmo leaders who knew the Master closely were Pratap Chandra Mazumdar, 
Vijay Krishna Goswami, Trailokyanath Sannyal and Sivanath Sastri. 

Sivanath, one day, was greatly impressed by the Master's utter simplicity and abhorrence of 
praise. He was seated with Sri Ramakrishna in the latter's room when several rich men of Calcutta 
arrived. The Master left the room for a few minutes. In the mean time Hriday, his nephew, began 
to describe his Samadhi to the visitors. The last few words caught the Master's ear as he entered 

the room. He said to Hriday: "What a mean-spirited fellow you must be to extol me thus before 
these rich men! You have seen their costly apparel and their gold watches and chains, and your 
object is to get from them as much money as you can. What do I care about what they think of 
me? (Turning to the gentlemen) No, my friends, what he has told you about me is not true. It was 
not love of God that made me absorbed in God and indifferent to external life. I became positively 
insane for some time. The sadhus who frequented this temple told me to practise many things. I 
tried to follow them, and the consequence was that my austerities drove me to insanity." This is a 
quotation from one of Sivanath's books. He took the Master's words literally and failed to see their 
real import. 

Sivanath vehemently criticized the Master for his other-worldly attitude toward his wife. He 
writes: "Ramakrishna was practically separated from his wife, who lived in her village home. One 
day when I was complaining to some friends about the virtual widowhood of his wife, he drew me 
to one side and whispered in my ear: 'Why do you complain? It is no longer possible; it is all dead 
and gone.' Another day as I was inveighing against this part of his teaching, and also declaring that 
our program of work in the Brahmo Samaj includes women, that ours is a social and domestic 
religion, and that we want to give education and social liberty to women, the saint became very 
much excited, as was his way when anything against his settled conviction was asserted - a trait we 
so much liked in him - and exclaimed, 'Go, thou fool, go and perish in the pit that your women will 
dig for you.' Then he glared at me and said: 'What does a gardener do with a young plant? Does he 
not surround it with a fence, to protect it from goats and cattle? And when the young plant has 
grown up into a tree and it can no longer be injured by cattle, does he not remove the fence and 
let the tree grow freely?' I replied, 'Yes, that is the custom with gardeners.' Then he remarked, 
'Do the same in your spiritual life; become strong, be full-grown; then you may seek them.' To 
which I replied, 'I don't agree with you in thinking that women's work is like that of cattle, 
destructive; they are our associates and helpers in our spiritual struggles and social progress' - a 
view with which he could not agree, and he marked his dissent by shaking his head. Then referring 
to the lateness of the hour he jocularly remarked, 'It is time for you to depart; take care, do not be 
late; otherwise your woman will not admit you into her room.' This evoked hearty laughter." 

Pratap Chandra Mazumdar, the right-hand man of Keshab and an accomplished Brahmo 
preacher in Europe and America, bitterly criticized Sri Ramakrishna's use of uncultured language 
and also his austere attitude toward his wife. But he could not escape the spell of the Master's 
personality. In the course of an article about Sri Ramakrishna, Pratap wrote in the "Theistic 
Quarterly Review": "What is there in common between him and me? I, a Europeanized, civilized, 
self-centered, semi-sceptical, so-called educated reasoner, and he, a poor, illiterate, unpolished, 
half-idolatrous, friendless Hindu devotee? Why should I sit long hours to attend to him, I, who 
have listened to Disraeli and Fawcett, Stanley and Max Muller, and a whole host of European 
scholars and divines? ... And it is not I only, but dozens like me, who do the same. ... He worships 
Siva, he worships Kali, he worships Rama, he worships Krishna, and is a confirmed advocate of 
Vedantic doctrines. ... He is an idolater, yet is a faithful and most devoted Meditator on the 
perfections of the One Formless, Absolute, Infinite Deity. ... His religion is ecstasy, his worship 
means transcendental insight, his whole nature burns day and night with a permanent fire and 
fever of a strange faith and feeling. ... So long as he is spared to us, gladly shall we sit at his feet to 

learn from him the sublime precepts of purity, unworldliness, spirituality, and inebriation in the 
love of God. ... He, by his childlike bhakti, by his strong conceptions of an ever-ready Motherhood, 
helped to unfold it [God as our Mother] in our minds wonderfully. ... By associating with him we 
learnt to realize better the divine attributes as scattered over the three hundred and thirty millions 
of deities of mythological India, the gods of the Puranas." 

The Brahmo leaders received much inspiration from their contact with Sri Ramakrishna. It 
broadened their religious views and kindled in their hearts the yearning for God-realization; it 
made them understand and appreciate the rituals and symbols of Hindu religion, convinced them 
of the manifestation of God in diverse forms, and deepened their thoughts about the harmony of 
religions. The Master, too, was impressed by the sincerity of many of the, Brahmo devotees. He 
told them about his own realizations and explained to them the essence of his teachings, such as 
the necessity of renunciation, sincerity in the pursuit of one's own course of discipline, faith in 
God, the performance of one's duties without thought of results, and discrimination between the 
Real and the unreal. 

This contact with the educated and progressive Bengalis opened Sri Ramakrishna's eyes to a 
new realm of thought. Born and brought up in a simple village, without any formal education, and 
taught by the orthodox holy men of India in religious life, he had had no opportunity to study the 
influence of modernism on the thoughts and lives of the Hindus. He could not properly estimate 
the result of the impact of Western education on Indian culture. He was a Hindu of the Hindus, 
renunciation being to him the only means to the realization of God in life. From the Brahmos he 
learnt that the new generation of India made a compromise between God and the world. 
Educated young men were influenced more by the Western philosophers than by their own 
prophets. But Sri Ramakrishna was not dismayed, for he saw in this, too, the hand of God. And 
though he expounded to the Brahmos all his ideas about God and austere religious disciplines, yet 
he bade them accept from his teachings only as much as suited their tastes and temperaments. 


Contact with the Brahmos increased Sri Ramakrishna's longing to encounter aspirants who 
would be able to follow his teachings in their purest form. "There was no limit", he once declared, 
"to the longing I felt at that time. During the day-time I somehow managed to control it. The 
secular talk of the worldly-minded was galling to me, and I would look wistfully to the day when 
my own beloved companions would come. I hoped to find solace in conversing with them and 
relating to them my own realizations. Every little incident would remind me of them, and thoughts 
of them wholly engrossed me. I was already arranging in my mind what I should say to one and 
give to another, and so on. But when the day would come to a close I would not be able to curb my 
feelings. The thought that another day had gone by, and they had not come, oppressed me. When, 
during the evening service, the temples rang with the sound of bells and conch-shells, I would 
climb to the roof of the Kuthi in the garden and, writhing in anguish of heart, cry at the top of my 
voice: 'Come, my children! Oh, where are you? I cannot bear to live without you.' A mother never 
longed so intensely for the sight of her child, nor a friend for his companions, nor a lover for his 
sweetheart, as I longed for them. Oh, it was indescribable! Shortly after this period of yearning the 
devotees began to come." 

In the year 1879 occasional writings about Sri Ramakrishna by the Brahmos, in the Brahmo 
magazines, began to attract his future disciples from the educated middle-class Bengalis, and they 
continued to come till 1884. But others, too, came, feeling the subtle power of his attraction. They 
were an ever shifting crowd of people of all castes and creeds: Hindus and Brahmos, Vaishnavas 
and Saktas, the educated with university degrees and the illiterate, old and young, maharajas and 
beggars, journalists and artists, pundits and devotees, philosophers and the worldly-minded, jnanis 
and yogis, men of action and men of faith, virtuous women and prostitutes, office-holders and 
vagabonds, philanthropists and self-seekers, dramatists and drunkards, builders-up and 
pullers-down. He gave to them all, without stint, from his illimitable store of realization. No one 
went away empty-handed. He taught them the lofty knowledge of the Vedanta and the 
soul-melting love of the Purana. Twenty hours out of twenty-four he would speak without rest or 
respite. He gave to all his sympathy and enlightenment, and he touched them with that strange 
power of the soul which could not but melt even the most hardened. And people understood him 
according to their powers of comprehension. 


But he remained as ever the willing instrument in the hand of God, the child of the Divine 
Mother, totally untouched by the idea of being a teacher. He used to say that three ideas - that he 
was a guru, a father, and a master - pricked his flesh like thorns. Yet he was an extraordinary 
teacher. He stirred his disciples' hearts more by a subtle influence than by actions or words. He 
never claimed to be the founder of a religion or the organizer of a sect. Yet he was a religious 
dynamo. He was the verifier of all religions and creeds. He was like an expert gardener, who 
prepares the soil and removes the weeds, knowing that the plants will grow because of the 
inherent power of the seeds, producing each its appropriate flowers and fruits. He never thrust his 
ideas on anybody. He understood people's limitations and worked on the principle that what is 
good for one may be bad for another. He had the unusual power of knowing the devotees' minds, 
even their inmost souls, at the first sight. He accepted disciples with the full knowledge of their 
past tendencies and future possibilities. The life of evil did not frighten him, nor did religious 
squeamishness raise anybody in his estimation. He saw in everything the unerring finger of the 
Divine Mother. Even the light that leads astray was to him the light from God. 

To those who became his intimate disciples the Master was a friend, companion, and 
playmate. Even the chores of religious discipline would be lightened in his presence. The devotees 
would be so inebriated with pure joy in his company that they would have no time to ask 
themselves whether he was an Incarnation, a perfect soul, or a yogi. His very presence was a great 
teaching; words were superfluous. In later years his disciples remarked that while they were with 
him they would regard him as a comrade, but afterwards would tremble to think of their frivolities 
in the presence of such a great person. They had convincing proof that the Master could, by his 
mere wish, kindle in their hearts the love of God and give them His vision. 

Through all this fun and frolic, this merriment and frivolity, he always kept before them the 
shining ideal of God-Consciousness and the path of renunciation. He prescribed ascents steep or 
graded according to the powers of the climber. He permitted no compromise with the basic 
principles of purity. An aspirant had to keep his body, mind, senses, and soul unspotted; had to 

have a sincere love for God and an ever mounting spirit of yearning. The rest would be done by the 

His disciples were of two kinds: the householders, and the young men, some of whom were 
later to become monks. There was also a small group of women devotees. 


For the householders Sri Ramakrishna did not prescribe the hard path of total renunciation. 
He wanted them to discharge their obligations to their families. Their renunciation was to be 
mental. Spiritual life could not he acquired by flying away from responsibilities. A married couple 
should live like brother and sister after the birth of one or two children, devoting their time to 
spiritual talk and contemplation. He encouraged the householders, saying that their life was, in a 
way, easier than that of the monk, since it was more advantageous to fight the enemy from inside 
a fortress than in an open field. He insisted, however, on their repairing into solitude every now 
and then to strengthen their devotion and faith in God through prayer, japa, and meditation. He 
prescribed for them the companionship of sadhus. He asked them to perform their worldly duties 
with one hand, while holding to God with the other, and to pray to God to make their duties fewer 
and fewer so that in the end they might cling to Him with both hands. He would discourage in both 
the householders and the celibate youths any lukewarmness in their spiritual struggles. He would 
not ask them to follow indiscriminately the ideal of non-resistance, which ultimately makes a 
coward of the unwary. 


But to the young men destined to be monks he pointed out the steep path of renunciation, 
both external and internal. They must take the vow of absolute continence and eschew all thought 
of greed and lust. By the practice of continence, aspirants develop a subtle nerve through which 
they understand the deeper mysteries of God. For them self-control is final, imperative, and 
absolute. The sannyasis are teachers of men, and their lives should be totally free from blemish. 
They must not even look at a picture which may awaken their animal passions. The Master 
selected his future monks from young men untouched by "woman and gold" and plastic enough to 
be cast in his spiritual mould. When teaching them the path of renunciation and discrimination, he 
would not allow the householders to be any where near them. 


The first two householder devotees to come to Dakshineswar were Ram Chandra Dutta and 
Manomohan Mitra. A medical practitioner and chemist, Ram was sceptical about God and religion 
and never enjoyed peace of soul. He wanted tangible proof of God's existence. The Master said to 
him: "God really exists. You don't see the stars in the daytime, but that doesn't mean that the stars 
do not exist. There is butter in milk. But can anybody see it by merely looking at the milk? To get 
butter you must churn milk in a quiet and cool place. You cannot realize God by a mere wish; you 
must go through some mental disciplines." By degrees the Master awakened Ram's spirituality and 
the latter became one of his foremost lay disciples. It was Ram who introduced Narendranath to 
Sri Ramakrishna. Narendra was a relative of Ram. 

Manomohan at first met with considerable opposition from his wife and other relatives, 
who resented his visits to Dakshineswar. But in the end the unselfish love of the Master triumphed 
over worldly affection. It was Manomohan who brought Rakhal to the Master. 


Suresh Mitra, a beloved disciple whom the Master often addressed as Surendra, had 
received an English education and held an important post in an English firm. Like many other 
educated young men of the time, he prided himself on his atheism and led a Bohemian life. He was 
addicted to drinking. He cherished an exaggerated notion about man's free will. A victim of mental 
depression, he was brought to Sri Ramakrishna by Ramchandra Dutta. When he heard the Master 
asking a disciple to practise the virtue of self-surrender to God, he was impressed. But though he 
tried thenceforth to do so, he was unable to give up his old associates and his drinking. One day 
the Master said in his presence, "Well, when a man goes to an undesirable place, why doesn't he 
take the Divine Mother with him?" And to Surendra himself Sri Ramakrishna said: "Why should you 
drink wine as wine? Offer it to Kali, and then take it as Her Prasad, as consecrated drink. But see 
that you don't, become intoxicated; you must not reel and your thoughts must not wander. At first 
you will feel ordinary excitement, but soon you will experience spiritual exaltation." Gradually 
Surendra's entire life was changed. The Master designated him as one of those commissioned by 
the Divine Mother to defray a great part of his expenses. Surendra's purse was always open for the 
Master's comfort. 


Kedarnath Chatterji was endowed with a spiritual temperament and had tried various paths 
of religion, some not very commendable. When he met the Master at Dakshineswar he 
understood the true meaning of religion. It is said that the Master, weary of instructing devotees 
who were coming to him in great numbers for guidance, once prayed to the Goddess Kali: 
"Mother, I am tired of speaking to people. Please give power to Kedar, Girish, Ram, Vijay, and 
Mahendra to give them the preliminary instruction, so that just a little teaching from me will be 
enough." He was aware, however, of Kedar's lingering attachment to worldly things and often 
warned him about it. 


Harish, a young man in affluent circumstances, renounced his family and took shelter with 
the Master, who loved him for his sincerity, singleness of purpose, and quiet nature. He spent his 
leisure time in prayer and meditation, turning a deaf ear to the entreaties and threats of his 
relatives. Referring to his undisturbed peace of mind, the Master would say: "Real men are dead to 
the world though, living. Look at Harish. He is an example." When one day the Master asked him to 
be a little kind to his wife, Harish said: "You must excuse me on this point. This is not the place to 
show kindness. If I try to be sympathetic to her, there is a possibility of my forgetting the ideal and 
becoming entangled in the world." 


Bhavanath Chatterji visited the Master while he was still in his teens. His parents and 
relatives regarded Sri Ramakrishna as an insane person and tried their utmost to prevent him from 
becoming intimate with the Master. But the young boy was very stubborn and often spent nights 
at Dakshineswar. He was greatly attached to Narendra, and the Master encouraged their 
friendship. The very sight of him often awakened Sri Ramakrishna's spiritual emotion. 

balarAm bose 

Balaram Bose came of a wealthy Vaishnava family. From his youth he had shown a deep 
religious temperament and had devoted his time to meditation, prayer, and the study of the 
Vaishnava scriptures. He was very much impressed by Sri Ramakrishna even at their first meeting. 
He asked Sri Ramakrishna whether God really existed and, if so, whether a man could realize Him. 
The Master said: "God reveals Himself to the devotee who thinks of Him as his nearest and 
dearest. Because you do not draw response by praying to Him once, you must not conclude that 
He does not exist. Pray to God, thinking of Him as dearer than your very self. He is much attached 
to His devotees. He comes to a man even before He is sought. There is none more intimate and 
affectionate than God." Balaram had never before heard God spoken of in such forceful words; 
every one of the words seemed true to him. Under the Master's influence he outgrew the 
conventions of the Vaishnava worship and became one of the most beloved of the disciples. It was 
at his home that the Master slept whenever he spent a night in Calcutta. 


Mahendranath Gupta, known as "M.", arrived at Dakshineswar in February 1882. He 
belonged to the Brahmo Samaj and was headmaster of the Vidyasagar High School at Syambazar, 
Calcutta. At the very first sight the Master recognized him as one of his "marked" disciples. 
Mahendra recorded in his diary Sri Ramakrishna's conversations with his devotees. These are the 
first directly recorded words, in the spiritual history of the world, of a man recognized as belonging 
in the class of Buddha and Christ. The present volume is a translation of this diary. Mahendra was 
instrumental, through his personal contacts, in spreading the Master's message among many 
young and aspiring souls. 

nAg mahAshay 

Durgacharan Nag, also known as Nag Mahashay, was the ideal householder among the lay 
disciples of Sri Ramakrishna. He was the embodiment of the Master's ideal of life in the world, 
unstained by worldliness. In spite of his intense desire to become a sannyasi, Sri Ramakrishna 
asked him to live in the world in the spirit of a monk, and the disciple truly carried out this 
injunction. He was born of a poor family and even during his boyhood often sacrificed everything 
to lessen the sufferings of the needy. He had married at an early age and after his wife's death had 
married a second time to obey his father's command. But he once said to his wife: "Love on the 
physical level never lasts. He is indeed blessed who can give his love to God with his whole heart. 
Even a little attachment to the body endures for several births. So do not be attached to this cage 
of bone and flesh. Take shelter at the feet of the Mother and think of Her alone. Thus your life 

here and hereafter will he ennobled." The Master spoke of him as a "blazing light". He received 
every word of Sri Ramakrishna in dead earnest. One day he heard the Master saying that it was 
difficult for doctors, lawyers, and brokers to make much progress in spirituality. Of doctors he said, 
"If the mind clings to the tiny drops of medicine, how can it conceive of the Infinite?" That was the 
end of Durgacharan's medical practice and he threw his chest of medicines into the Ganges. Sri 
Ramakrishna assured him that he would not lack simple food and clothing. He bade him serve holy 
men. On being asked where he would find real holy men, the Master said that the sadhus 
themselves would seek his company. No sannyasi could have lived a more austere life than 


Girish Chandra Ghosh was a born rebel against God, a sceptic, a Bohemian, a drunkard. He 
was the greatest Bengali dramatist of his time, the father of the modern Bengali stage. Like other 
young men he had imbibed all the vices of the West. He had plunged into a life of dissipation and 
had become convinced that religion was only a fraud. Materialistic philosophy he justified as 
enabling one to get at least a little fun out of life. But a series of reverses shocked him and he 
became eager to solve the riddle of life. He had heard people say that in spiritual life the help of a 
guru was imperative and that the guru was to be regarded as God Himself. But Girish was too well 
acquainted with human nature to see perfection in a man. His first meeting with Sri Ramakrishna 
did not impress him at all. He returned home feeling as if he had seen a freak at a circus; for the 
Master, in a semi-conscious mood, had inquired whether it was evening, though the lamps were 
burning in the room. But their paths often crossed, and Girish could not avoid further encounters. 
The Master attended a performance in Girish's Star Theatre. On this occasion, too, Girish found 
nothing impressive about him. One day, however, Girish happened to see the Master dancing and 
singing with the devotees. He felt the contagion and wanted to join them, but restrained himself 
for fear of ridicule. Another day Sri Ramakrishna was about to give him spiritual instruction, when 
Girish said: "I don't want to listen to instructions. I have myself written many instructions. They are 
of no use to me. Please help me in a more tangible way if you can." This pleased the Master and he 
asked Girish to cultivate faith. 

As time passed, Girish began to learn that the guru is the one who silently unfolds the 
disciple's inner life. He became a steadfast devotee of the Master. 

He often loaded the Master with insults, drank in his presence, and took liberties which 
astounded the other devotees. But the Master knew that at heart Girish was tender, faithful, and 
sincere. He would not allow Girish to give up the theatre. And when a devotee asked him to tell 
Girish to give up drinking, he sternly replied: "That is none of your business. He who has taken 
charge of him will look after him. Girish is a devotee of heroic type. I tell you, drinking will not 
affect him." The Master knew that mere words could not induce a man to break deep-rooted 
habits, but that the silent influence of love worked miracles. Therefore he never asked him to give 
up alcohol, with the result that Girish himself eventually broke the habit. Sri Ramakrishna had 
strengthened Girish's resolution by allowing him to feel that he was absolutely free. 

One day Girish felt depressed because he was unable to submit to any routine of spiritual 
discipline. In an exalted mood the Master said to him: "All right, give me your power of attorney. 
Henceforth I assume responsibility for you. You need not do anything." Girish heaved a sigh of 
relief. He felt happy to think that Sri Ramakrishna had assumed his spiritual responsibilities. But 
poor Girish could not then realize that he also, on his part, had to give up his freedom and make of 
himself a puppet in Sri Ramakrishna's hands. The Master began to discipline him according to this 
new attitude. One day Girish said about a trifling matter, "Yes, I shall do this." "No, no!" the Master 
corrected him. "You must not speak in that egotistic manner. You should say, 'God willing, I shall 
do it'." Girish understood. Thenceforth he tried to give up all idea of personal responsibility and 
surrender himself to the Divine Will. His mind began to dwell constantly on Sri Ramakrishna. This 
unconscious meditation in time chastened his turbulent spirit. 

The householder devotees generally visited Sri Ramakrishna on Sunday afternoons and 
other holidays. Thus a brotherhood was gradually formed, and the Master encouraged their 
fraternal feeling. Now and then he would accept an invitation to a devotee's home, where other 
devotees would also be invited. Kirtan would be arranged and they would spend hours in dance 
and devotional music. The Master would go into trances or open his heart in religious discourses 
and in the narration of his own spiritual experiences. Many people who could not go to 
Dakshineswar participated in these meetings and felt blessed. Such an occasion would be 
concluded with a sumptuous feast. 

But it was in the company of his younger devotees, pure souls yet unstained by the touch of 
worldliness, that Sri Ramakrishna took greatest joy. Among the young men who later embraced 
the householder's life were Narayan, Paltu, the younger Naren, Tejchandra and Purna. These 
visited the Master sometimes against strong opposition from home. 


Purna was a lad of thirteen, whom Sri Ramakrishna described as an Isvarakoti, a soul born 
with special spiritual qualities. The Master said that Purna was the last of the group of brilliant 
devotees who, as he once had seen in a trance, would come to him for spiritual illumination. Purna 
said to Sri Ramakrishna during their second meeting, "You are God Himself incarnated in flesh and 
blood." Such words coming from a mere youngster proved of what stuff the boy was made. 

mahimAcharan and pratAp hazra 

Mahimacharan and Pratap Hazra were two devotees outstanding for their pretentiousness 
and idiosyncrasies. But the Master showed them his unfailing love and kindness, though he was 
aware of their shortcomings. Mahimacharan Chakravarty had met the Master long before the 
arrival of the other disciples. He had had the intention of leading a spiritual life, but a strong desire 
to acquire name and fame was his weakness. He claimed to have been initiated by Totapuri and 
used to say that he had been following the path of knowledge according to his guru's instructions. 
He possessed a large library of English and Sanskrit books. But though he pretended to have read 
them, most of the leaves were uncut. The Master knew all his limitations, yet enjoyed listening to 
him recite from the Vedas and other scriptures. He would always exhort Mahima to meditate on 
the meaning of the scriptural texts and to practise spiritual discipline. 

Pratap Hazra, a middle-aged man, hailed from a village near Kamarpukur. He was not 
altogether unresponsive to religious feelings. On a moment's impulse he had left his home, aged 
mother, wife, and children, and had found shelter in the temple garden at Dakshineswar, where he 
intended to lead a spiritual life. He loved to argue, and the Master often pointed him out as an 
example of barren argumentation. He was hypercritical of others and cherished an exaggerated 
notion of his own spiritual advancement. He was mischievous and often tried to upset the minds 
of the Master's young disciples, criticizing them for their happy and joyous life and asking them to 
devote their time to meditation. The Master teasingly compared Hazra to Jatila and Kutila, the two 
women who always created obstructions in Krishna's sport with the gopis, and said that Hazra 
lived at Dakshineswar to "thicken the plot" by adding complications. 


Sri Ramakrishna also became acquainted with a number of people whose scholarship or 
wealth entitled them everywhere to respect. He had met, a few years before, Devendranath 
Tagore, famous all over Bengal for his wealth, scholarship, saintly character, and social position. 
But the Master found him disappointing; for, whereas Sri Ramakrishna expected of a saint 
complete renunciation of the world, Devendranath combined with his saintliness a life of 
enjoyment. Sri Ramakrishna met the great poet Michael Madhusudan, who had embraced 
Christianity "for the sake of his stomach". To him the Master could not impart instruction, for the 
Divine Mother "pressed his tongue". In addition he met Maharaja Jatindra Mohan Tagore, a titled 
aristocrat of Bengal; Kristodas Pal, the editor, social reformer, and patriot; Iswar Chandra 
Vidyasagar, the noted philanthropist and educator; Pundit Sasadhar, a great champion of Hindu 
orthodoxy; Aswini Kumar Dutta, a headmaster, moralist, and leader of Indian Nationalism; and 
Bankim Chatterji, a deputy magistrate, novelist, and essayist, and one of the fashioners of modern 
Bengali prose. Sri Ramakrishna was not the man to be dazzled by outward show, glory, or 
eloquence. A pundit without discrimination he regarded as a mere straw. He would search 
people's hearts for the light of God, and if that was missing, he would have nothing to do with 


The Europeanized Kristodas Pal did not approve of the Master's emphasis on renunciation 
and said: "Sir, this cant of renunciation has almost ruined the country. It is for this reason that the 
Indians are a subject nation today. Doing good to others, bringing education to the door of the 
ignorant, and above all, improving the material conditions of the country - these should be our 
duty now. The cry of religion and renunciation would, on the contrary, only weaken us. You should 
advise the young men of Bengal to resort only to such acts as will uplift the country." Sri 
Ramakrishna gave him a searching look and found no divine light within. "You man of poor 
understanding!" Sri Ramakrishna said sharply. "You dare to slight in these terms renunciation and 
piety, which our scriptures describe as the greatest of all virtues! After reading two pages of 
English you think you have come to know the world! You appear to think you are omniscient. Well, 
have you seen those tiny crabs that are born in the Ganges just when the rains set in? In this big 
universe you are even less significant than one of those small creatures. How dare you talk of 
helping the world? The Lord will look to that. You haven't the power in you to do it." After a pause 

the Master continued: "Can you explain to me how you can work for others? I know what you 
mean by helping them. To feed a number of persons, to treat them when they are sick, to 
construct a road or dig a well - Isn't that all? These are good deeds, no doubt, but how trifling in 
comparison with the vastness of the universe! How far can a man advance in this line? How many 
people can you save from famine? Malaria has ruined a whole province; what could you do to stop 
its onslaught? God alone looks after the world. Let a man first realize Him. Let a man get the 
authority from God and be endowed with His power; then, and then alone, may he think of doing 
good to others. A man should first be purged of all egotism. Then alone will the Blissful Mother ask 
him to work for the world." Sri Ramakrishna mistrusted philanthropy that presumed to pose as 
charity. He warned people against it. He saw in most acts of philanthropy nothing but egotism, 
vanity, a desire for glory, a barren excitement to kill the boredom of life, or an attempt to soothe a 
guilty conscience. True charity, he taught, is the result of love of God - service to man in a spirit of 


The disciples whom the Master trained for monastic life were the following: 

1. Narendranath Dutta (Swami Vivekananda) 

2. Nitya Niranjan Sen (Swami Niranjanananda) 

3. Rakhal Chandra Ghosh (Swami Brahmananda) 

4. Kaliprasad Chandra (Swami Abhedananda) 

5. Gopal Chandra Ghosh (Swami Advaitananda) 

6. Harinath Chattopadhyaya (Swami Turiyananda) 

7. Baburam Ghosh (Swami Premananda) 

8. Sarada Prasanna (Swami Trigunatitananda) 

9. Taraknath Ghoshal (Swami Shivananda) 

10. Gangadhar Ghatak (Swami Akhandananda) 

11. Jogindranath Choudhury (Swami Yogananda) 

12. Subodh Ghosh (Swami Subodhananda) 

13. Sashibhushan Chakravarty (Swami Ramakrishnananda) 

14. Saratchandra Chakravarty (Swami Saradananda) 

15. Hariprasanna Chatterji (Swami Vijnanananda) 

16. Latu (Swami Adhhutananda) 


The first of these young men to come to the Master was Latu. Born of obscure parents, in 
Behar, he came to Calcutta in search of work and was engaged by Ramchandra Dutta as 
house-boy. Learning of the saintly Sri Ramakrishna, he visited the Master at Dakshineswar and was 
deeply touched by his cordiality. When he was about to leave, the Master asked him to take some 
money and return home in a boat or carriage. But Latu declared he had a few pennies and jingled 
the coins in his pocket. Sri Ramakrishna later requested Ram to allow Latu to stay with him 
permanently. Under Sri Ramakrishna's guidance Latu made great progress in meditation and was 
blessed with ecstatic visions, but all the efforts of the Master to give him a smattering of education 
failed. Latu was very fond of kirtan and other devotional songs but remained all his life illiterate. 


Even before RakhaTs coming to Dakshineswar, the Master had had visions of him as his 
spiritual son and as a playmate of Krishna at Vrindavan. Rakhal was born of wealthy parents. 
During his childhood he developed wonderful spiritual traits and used to play at worshipping gods 
and goddesses. In his teens he was married to a sister of Manomohan Mitra, from whom he first 
heard of the Master. His father objected to his association with Sri Ramakrishna but afterwards 
was reassured to find that many celebrated people were visitors at Dakshineswar. The relationship 
between the Master and this beloved disciple was that of mother and child. Sri Ramakrishna 
allowed Rakhal many liberties denied to others. But he would not hesitate to chastise the boy for 
improper actions. At one time Rakhal felt a childlike jealousy because he found that other boys 
were receiving the Master's affection. He soon got over it and realized his guru as the Guru of the 
whole universe. The Master was worried to hear of his marriage, but was relieved to find that his 
wife was a spiritual soul who would not be a hindrance to his progress. 


Gopal Chandra Ghosh came to Dakshineswar at a rather advanced age and was called the 
elder Gopal. He had lost his wife, and the Master assuaged his grief. Soon he renounced the world 
and devoted himself fully to meditation and prayer. Some years later Gopal gave the Master the 
ochre cloths with which the latter initiated several of his disciples into monastic life. 


To spread his message to the four corners of the earth Sri Ramakrishna needed a strong 
instrument. With his frail body and delicate limbs he could not make great journeys across wide 
spaces. And such an instrument was found in Narendranath Dutta, his beloved Naren, later known 
to the world as Swami Vivekananda. Even before meeting Narendranath, the Master had seen him 
in a vision as a sage, immersed in the meditation of the Absolute, who at Sri Ramakrishna's request 
had agreed to take human birth to assist him in his work. 

Narendra was born in Calcutta on January 12, 1863, of an aristocratic Kayastha family. His 
mother was steeped in the great Hindu epics, and his father, a distinguished attorney of the 
Calcutta High Court, was an agnostic about religion, a friend of the poor, and a mocker at social 
conventions. Even in his boyhood and youth Narendra possessed great physical courage and 

presence of mind, a vivid imagination, deep power of thought, keen intelligence, an extraordinary 
memory, a love of truth, a passion for purity, a spirit of independence, and a tender heart. An 
expert musician, he also acquired proficiency in physics, astronomy, mathematics, philosophy, 
history, and literature. He grew up into an extremely handsome young man. Even as a child he 
practised meditation and showed great power of concentration. Though free and passionate in 
word and action, he took the vow of austere religious chastity and never allowed the fire of purity 
to be extinguished by the slightest defilement of body or soul. 

As he read in college the rationalistic Western philosophers of the nineteenth century, his 
boyhood faith in God and religion was unsettled. He would not accept religion on mere faith; he 
wanted demonstration of God. But very soon his passionate nature discovered that mere Universal 
Reason was cold and bloodless. His emotional nature, dissatisfied with a mere abstraction, 
required a concrete support to help him in the hours of temptation. He wanted an external power, 
a guru, who by embodying perfection in the flesh would still the commotion of his soul. Attracted 
by the magnetic personality of Keshab, he joined the Brahmo Samaj and became a singer in its 
choir. But in the Samaj he did not find the guru who could say that he had seen God. 

In a state of mental conflict and torture of soul, Narendra came to Sri Ramakrishna at 
Dakshineswar. He was then eighteen years of age and had been in college two years. He entered 
the Master's room accompanied by some light-hearted friends. At Sri Ramakrishna's request he 
sang a few songs, pouring his whole soul into them, and the Master went into Samadhi. A few 
minutes later Sri Ramakrishna suddenly left his seat, took Narendra by the hand, and led him to 
the screened verandah north of his room. They were alone. Addressing Narendra most tenderly, as 
if he were a friend of long acquaintance, the Master said: "Ah! You have come very late. Why have 
you been so unkind as to make me wait all these days? My ears are tired of hearing the futile 
words of worldly men. Oh, how I have longed to pour my spirit into the heart of someone fitted to 
receive my message!" He talked thus, sobbing all the time. Then, standing before Narendra with 
folded hands, he addressed him as Narayana, born on earth to remove the misery of humanity. 
Grasping Narendra's hand, he asked him to come again, alone, and very soon. Narendra was 
startled. "What is this I have come to see?" he said to himself. "He must be stark mad. Why, I am 
the son of Viswanath Dutta. How dare he speak this way to me?" 

When they returned to the room and Narendra heard the Master speaking to others, he 
was surprised to find in his words an inner logic, a striking sincerity, and a convincing proof of his 
spiritual nature. In answer to Narendra's question, "Sir, have you seen 

God?" the Master said: "Yes, I have seen God. I have seen Him more tangibly than I see you. 
I have talked to Him more intimately than I am talking to you." Continuing, the Master said: "But, 
my child, who wants to see God? People shed jugs of tears for money, wife, and children. But if 
they would weep for God for only one day they would surely see Him." Narendra was amazed. 
These words he could not doubt. This was the first time he had ever heard a man saying that he 
had seen God. But he could not reconcile these words of the Master with the scene that had taken 
place on the verandah only a few minutes before. He concluded that Sri Ramakrishna was a 
monomaniac, and returned home rather puzzled in mind. 

During his second visit, about a month later, suddenly, at the touch of the Master, Narendra 
felt overwhelmed and saw the walls of the room and everything around him whirling and 
vanishing. "What are you doing to me?" he cried in terror. "I have my father and mother at home." 
He saw his own ego and the whole universe almost swallowed in a nameless void. With a laugh the 
Master easily restored him. Narendra thought he might have been hypnotized, but he could not 
understand how a monomaniac could cast a spell over the mind of a strong person like himself. He 
returned home more confused than ever, resolved to be henceforth on his guard before this 
strange man. 

But during his third visit Narendra fared no better. This time, at the Master's touch, he lost 
consciousness entirely. While he was still in that state, Sri Ramakrishna questioned him concerning 
his spiritual antecedents and whereabouts, his mission in this world, and the duration of his mortal 
life. The answers confirmed what the Master himself had known and inferred. Among other things, 
he came to know that Narendra was a sage who had already attained perfection, and that the day 
he learnt his real nature he would give up his body in yoga, by an act of will. 

A few more meetings completely removed from Narendra's mind the last traces of the 
notion that Sri Ramakrishna might be a monomaniac or wily hypnotist. His integrity, purity, 
renunciation, and unselfishness were beyond question. But Narendra could not accept a man, an 
imperfect mortal, as his guru. As a member of the Brahmo Samaj, he could not believe that a 
human intermediary was necessary between man and God. Moreover, he openly laughed at Sri 
Ramakrishna's visions as hallucinations. Yet in the secret chamber of his heart he bore a great love 
for the Master. 

Sri Ramakrishna was grateful to the Divine Mother for sending him one who doubted his 
own realizations. Often he asked Narendra to test him as the money-changers test their coins. He 
laughed at Narendra's biting criticism of his spiritual experiences and Samadhi. When at times 
Narendra's sharp words distressed him, the Divine Mother Herself would console him, saying: 
"Why do you listen to him? In a few days he will believe your every word." He could hardly bear 
Narendra's absences. Often he would weep bitterly for the sight of him. Sometimes Narendra 
would find the Master's love embarrassing; and one day he sharply scolded him, warning him that 
such infatuation would soon draw him down to the level of its object. The Master was distressed 
and prayed to the Divine Mother. Then he said to Narendra: "You rogue, I won't listen to you any 
more. Mother says that I love you because I see God in you, and the day I no longer see God in you 
I shall not be able to bear even the sight of you." 

The Master wanted to train Narendra in the teachings of the non-dualistic Vedanta 
philosophy. But Narendra, because of his Brahmo upbringing, considered it wholly blasphemous to 
look on man as one with his Creator. One day at the temple garden he laughingly said to a friend: 
"How silly! This jug is God! This cup is God! Whatever we see is God! And we too are God! Nothing 
could be more absurd." Sri Ramakrishna came out of his room and gently touched him. 
Spellbound, he immediately perceived that everything in the world was indeed God. A new 
universe opened around him. Returning home in a dazed state, he found there too that the food, 
the plate, the eater himself, the people around him, were all God. When he walked in the street, 
he saw that the cabs, the horses, the streams of people, the buildings, were all Brahman. He could 

hardly go about his day's business. His parents became anxious about him and thought him ill. And 
when the intensity of the experience abated a little, he saw the world as a dream. Walking in the 
public square, he would strike his head against the iron railings to know whether they were real. It 
took him a number of days to recover his normal self. He had a foretaste of the great experiences 
yet to come and realized that the words of the Vedanta were true. 

At the beginning of 1884 Narendra's father suddenly died of heart -failure, leaving the family 
in a state of utmost poverty. There were six or seven mouths to feed at home. Creditors were 
knocking at the door. Relatives who had accepted his father's unstinted kindness now became 
enemies, some even bringing suit to deprive Narendra of his ancestral home. Actually starving and 
barefoot, Narendra searched for a job, but without success. He began to doubt whether anywhere 
in the world there was such a thing as unselfish sympathy. Two rich women made evil proposals to 
him and promised to put an end to his distress; but he refused them with contempt. 

Narendra began to talk of his doubt of the very existence of God. His friends thought he had 
become an atheist and piously circulated gossip adducing unmentionable motives for his unbelief. 
His moral character was maligned. Even some of the Master's disciples partly believed the gossip, 
and Narendra told these to their faces that only a coward believed in God through fear of suffering 
or hell. But he was distressed to think that Sri Ramakrishna, too, might believe these false reports. 
His pride revolted. He said to himself: "What does it matter? If a man's good name rests on such 
slender foundations, I don't care." But later on he was amazed to learn that the Master had never 
lost faith in him. To a disciple who complained about Narendra's degradation, Sri Ramakrishna 
replied: "Hush, you fool! The Mother has told me it can never be so. I won't look at you if you 
speak that way again." 

The moment came when Narendra's distress reached its climax. He had gone the whole day 
without food. As he was returning home in the evening he could hardly lift his tired limbs. He sat 
down in front of a house in sheer exhaustion, too weak even to think. His mind began to wander. 
Then, suddenly, a divine power lifted the veil over his soul. He found the solution of the problem 
of the coexistence of divine justice and misery, the presence of suffering in the creation of a 
blissful Providence. He felt bodily refreshed, his soul was bathed in peace, and he slept serenely. 

Narendra now realized that he had a spiritual mission to fulfil. He resolved to renounce the 
world, as his grandfather had renounced it, and he came to Sri Ramakrishna for his blessing. But 
even before he had opened his mouth, the Master knew what was in his mind and wept bitterly at 
the thought of separation. "I know you cannot lead a worldly life," he said, "but for my sake live in 
the world as long as I live." 

One day, soon after, Narendra requested Sri Ramakrishna to pray to the Divine Mother to 
remove his poverty. Sri Ramakrishna bade him pray to Her himself, for She would certainly listen 
to his prayer. Narendra entered the shrine of Kali. As he stood before the image of the Mother, he 
beheld Her as a living Goddess, ready to give wisdom and liberation. Unable to ask Her for petty 
worldly things, he prayed only for knowledge and renunciation, love and liberation. The Master 
rebuked him for his failure to ask the Divine Mother to remove his poverty and sent him back to 
the temple. But Narendra, standing in Her presence, again forgot the purpose of his coming. Thrice 

he went to the temple at the bidding of the Master, and thrice he returned, having forgotten in 
Her presence why he had come. He was wondering about it when it suddenly flashed in his mind 
that this was all the work of Sri Ramakrishna; so now he asked the Master himself to remove his 
poverty, and was assured that his family would not lack simple food and clothing. 

This was a very rich and significant experience for Narendra. It taught him that Sakti, the 
Divine Power, cannot be ignored in the world and that in the relative plane the need of 
worshipping a Personal God is imperative. Sri Ramakrishna was overjoyed with the conversion. The 
next day, sitting almost on Narendra's lap, he said to a devotee, pointing first to himself, then to 
Narendra: "I see I am this, and again that. Really I feel no difference. A stick floating in the Ganges 
seems to divide the water; but in reality the water is one. Do you see my point? Well, whatever is, 
is the Mother - isn't that so?" In later years Narendra would say: "Sri Ramakrishna was the only 
person who, from the time he met me, believed in me uniformly throughout. Even my mother and 
brothers did not. It was his unwavering trust and love for me that bound me to him for ever. He 
alone knew how to love. Worldly people only make a show of love for selfish ends." 


Others destined to be monastic disciples of Sri Ramakrishna came to Dakshineswar. 
Taraknath Ghoshal had felt from his boyhood the noble desire to realize God. Keshab and the 
Brahmo Samaj had attracted him but proved inadequate. In 1882 he first met the Master at 
Ramchandra's house and was astonished to hear him talk about Samadhi, a subject which always 
fascinated his mind. And that evening he actually saw a manifestation of that superconscious state 
in the Master. Tarak became a frequent visitor at Dakshineswar and received the Master's grace in 
abundance. The young boy often felt ecstatic fervour in meditation. He also wept profusely while 
meditating on God. Sri Ramakrishna said to him: "God favours those who can weep for Him. Tears 
shed for God wash away the sins of former births." 


Baburam Ghosh came to Dakshineswar accompanied by Rakhal, his classmate. The Master, 
as was often his custom, examined the boy's physiognomy and was satisfied about his latent 
spirituality. At the age of eight Baburam had thought of leading a life of renunciation, in the 
company of a monk, in a hut shut out from the public view by a thick wall of trees. The very sight 
of the Panchavati awakened in his heart that dream of boyhood. Baburam was tender in body and 
soul. The Master used to say that he was pure to his very bones. One day Hazra in his usual 
mischievous fashion advised Baburam and some of the other young boys to ask Sri Ramakrishna 
for some spiritual powers and not waste their life in mere gaiety and merriment. The Master, 
scenting mischief, called Baburam to his side, and said: "What can you ask of me? Isn't everything 
that I have already yours? Yes, everything I have earned in the shape of realizations is for the sake 
of you all. So get rid of the idea of begging, which alienates by creating a distance. Rather realize 
your kinship with me and gain the key to all the treasures." 


Nitya Niranjan Sen was a disciple of heroic type. He came to the Master when he was 
eighteen years old. He was a medium for a group of spiritualists. During his first visit the Master 
said to him: "My boy, if you think always of ghosts you will become a ghost, and if you think of God 
you will become God. Now, which do you prefer?" Niranjan severed all connections with the 
spiritualists. During his second visit the Master embraced him and said warmly: "Niranjan, my boy, 
the days are flitting away. When will you realize God? This life will be in vain if you do not realize 
Him. When will You devote your mind wholly to God?" Niranjan was surprised to see the Master's 
great anxiety for his spiritual welfare. He was a young man endowed with unusual spiritual parts. 
He felt disdain for worldly pleasures and was totally guileless, like a child. But he had a violent 
temper. One day, as he was coming in a country boat to Dakshineswar, some of his fellow 
passengers began to speak ill of the Master. Finding his protest futile, Niranjan began to rock the 
boat, threatening to sink it in midstream. That silenced the offenders. When he reported the 
incident to the Master, he was rebuked for his inability to curb his anger. 


Jogindranath, on the other hand, was gentle to a fault. One day, under circumstances very 
like those that had evoked Niranjan's anger, he curbed his temper and held his peace instead of 
threatening Sri Ramakrishna's abusers. The Master, learning of his conduct, scolded him roundly. 
Thus to each the fault of the other was recommended as a virtue. The guru was striving to 
develop, in the first instance, composure, and in the second, mettle. The secret of his training was 
to build up, by a tactful recognition of the requirements of each given case, the character of the 

Jogindranath came of an aristocratic brahmin family of Dakshineswar. His father and 
relatives shared the popular mistrust of Sri Ramakrishna's sanity. At a very early age the boy 
developed religious tendencies, spending two or three hours daily in meditation, and his meeting 
with Sri Ramakrishna deepened his desire for the realization of God. He had a perfect horror of 
marriage. But at the earnest request of his mother he had had to yield, and he now believed that 
his spiritual future was doomed. So he kept himself away from the Master. 

Sri Ramakrishna employed a ruse to bring Jogindra to him. As soon as the disciple entered 
the room, the Master rushed forward to meet the young man. Catching hold of the disciple's hand, 
he said: "What if you have married, Haven't I too married? What is there to be afraid of in that?" 
Touching his own chest he said: "If this [meaning himself] is propitious, then even a hundred 
thousand marriages cannot injure you. It you desire to lead a householder's life, then bring your 
wife here one day, and I shall see that she becomes a real companion in your spiritual progress. 
But if you want to lead a monastic life, then I shall eat up your attachment to the world." Jogin 
was dumbfounded at these words. He received new strength, and his spirit of renunciation was 


Sashi and Sarat were two cousins who came from a pious brahmin family of Calcutta. At an 
early age they had joined the Brahmo Samaj and had come under the influence of Keshab Sen. The 

Master said to them at their first meeting: "If bricks and tiles are burnt after the trade-mark has 
been stamped on them, they retain the mark for ever. Similarly, man should be stamped with God 
before entering the world. Then he will not become attached to worldliness." Fully aware of the 
future course of their life, he asked them not to marry. The Master asked Sashi whether he 
believed in God with form or in God without form. Sashi replied that he was not even sure about 
the existence of God; so he could not speak one way or the other. This frank answer very much 
pleased the Master. 

Sarat's soul longed for the all-embracing realization of the Godhead. When the Master 
inquired whether there was any particular form of God he wished to see, the boy replied that he 
would like to see God in all the living beings of the world. "But", the Master demurred, "that is the 
last word in realization. One cannot have it at the very outset." Sarat stated calmly: "I won't be 
satisfied with anything short of that. I shall trudge on along the path till I attain that blessed state." 
Sri Ramakrishna was very much pleased. 


Harinath had led the austere life of a brahmachari even from his early boyhood -bathing in 
the Ganges every day, cooking his own meals, waking before sunrise, and reciting the Gita from 
memory before leaving bed. He found in the Master the embodiment of the Vedanta scriptures. 
Aspiring to be a follower of the ascetic Sankara, he cherished a great hatred for women. One day 
he said to the Master that he could not allow even small girls to come near him. The Master 
scolded him and said: "You are talking like a fool. Why should you hate women? They are the 
manifestations of the Divine Mother. Regard them as your own mother and you will never feel 
their evil influence. The more you hate them, the more you will fall into their snares." Hari said 
later that these words completely changed his attitude toward women. 

The Master knew Hari's passion for Vedanta. But he did not wish any of his disciples to 
become a dry ascetic or a mere bookworm. So he asked Hari to practise Vedanta in life by giving 
up the unreal and following the Real. "But it is not so easy", Sri Ramakrishna said, "to realize the 
illusoriness of the world. Study alone does not help one very much. The grace of God is required. 
Mere personal effort is futile. A man is a tiny creature after all, with very limited powers. But he 
can achieve the impossible if he prays to God for His grace." Whereupon the Master sang a song in 
praise of grace. Hari was profoundly moved and shed tears. Later in life Hari achieved a wonderful 
synthesis of the ideals of the Personal God and the Impersonal Truth. 


Gangadhar, Harinath's friend, also led the life of a strict brahmachari, eating vegetarian 
food cooked by his own hands and devoting himself to the study of the scriptures. He met the 
Master in 1884 and soon became a member of his inner circle. The Master praised his ascetic habit 
and attributed it to the spiritual disciplines of his past life. Gangadhar became a close companion 
of Narendra. 


Hariprasanna, a college student, visited the Master in the company of his friends Sashi and 
Sarat. Sri Ramakrishna showed him great favour by initiating him into spiritual life. As long as he 
lived, Hariprasanna remembered and observed the following drastic advice of the Master: "Even if 
a woman is pure as gold and rolls on the ground for love of God, it is dangerous for a monk ever to 
look at her." 


Kaliprasad visited the Master toward the end of 1883. Given to the practice of meditation 
and the study of the scriptures, Kali was particularly interested in yoga. Feeling the need of a guru 
in spiritual life, he came to the Master and was accepted as a disciple. The young boy possessed a 
rational mind and often felt sceptical about the Personal God. The Master said to him: "Your 
doubts will soon disappear. Others, too, have passed through such a state of mind. Look at Naren. 
He now weeps at the names of Radha and Krishna." Kali began to see visions of gods and 
goddesses. Very soon these disappeared and in meditation he experienced vastness, infinity, and 
the other attributes of the Impersonal Brahman. 


Subodh visited the Master in 1885. At the very first meeting Sri Ramakrishna said to him: 
"You will succeed. Mother says so. Those whom She sends here will certainly attain spirituality." 
During the second meeting the Master wrote something on Subodh's tongue, stroked his body 
from the navel to the throat, and said, "Awake, Mother! Awake." He asked the boy to meditate. At 
once Subodh's latent spirituality was awakened. He felt a current rushing along the spinal column 
to the brain. Joy filled his soul. 

SARADA and tulasi 

Two more young men, Sarada Prasanna and Tulasi, complete the small band of the Master's 
disciples later to embrace the life of the wandering monk. With the exception of the elder Gopal, 
all of them were in their teens or slightly over. They came from middle class Bengali families, and 
most of them were students in school or college. Their parents and relatives had envisaged for 
them bright worldly careers. They came to Sri Ramakrishna with pure bodies, vigorous minds, and 
uncontaminated souls. All were born with unusual spiritual attributes. Sri Ramakrishna accepted 
them, even at first sight, as his children, relatives, friends, and companions. His magic touch 
unfolded them. And later each according to his measure reflected the life of the Master, becoming 
a torchbearer of his message across land and sea. 


With his woman devotees Sri Ramakrishna established a very sweet relationship. He himself 
embodied the tender traits of a woman; he had dwelt on the highest plane of Truth, where there is 
not even the slightest trace of sex; and his innate purity evoked only the noblest emotion in men 
and women alike. His woman devotees often said: "We seldom looked on Sri Ramakrishna as a 
member of the male sex. We regarded him as one of us. We never felt any constraint before him, 

He was our best confidant." They loved him as their child, their friend, and their teacher. In 
spiritual discipline he advised them to renounce lust and greed and especially warned them not to 
fall into the snares of men. 

gopAl MA 

Unsurpassed among the woman devotees of the Master in the richness of her devotion and 
spiritual experiences was Aghoramani Devi, an orthodox brahmin woman. Widowed at an early 
age, she had dedicated herself completely to spiritual pursuits. Gopala, the Baby Krishna, was her 
Ideal Deity, whom she worshipped following the Vatsalya attitude of the Vaishnava religion, 
regarding Him as her own child. Through Him she satisfied her unassuaged maternal love, cooking 
for Him, feeding Him, bathing Him, and putting Him to bed. This sweet intimacy with Gopala won 
her the sobriquet of Gopal Ma, or Gopala's Mother. For forty years she had lived on the bank of 
the Ganges in a small bare room, her only companions being a threadbare copy of the Ramayana 
and a bag containing her rosary. At the age of sixty, in 1884, she visited Sri Ramakrishna at 
Dakshineswar. During the second visit, as soon as the Master saw her, he said: "Oh, you have 
come! Give me something to eat." With great hesitation she gave him some ordinary sweets that 
she had purchased for him on the way. The Master ate them with relish and asked her to bring him 
simple curries or sweets prepared by her own hands. Gopal Ma thought him a queer kind of monk, 
for, instead of talking of God, he always asked for food. She did not want to visit him again, but an 
irresistible attraction brought her back to the temple garden. She carried with her some simple 
curries that she had cooked herself. 

One early morning at three o'clock, about a year later, Gopal Ma was about to finish her 
daily devotions, when she was startled to find Sri Ramakrishna sitting on her left, with his right 
hand clenched, like the hand of the image of Gopala. She was amazed and caught hold of the 
hand, whereupon the figure vanished and in its place appeared the real Gopala, her Ideal Deity. 
She cried aloud with joy. Gopala begged her for butter. She pleaded her poverty and gave Him 
some dry coconut candies. Gopala sat on her lap, snatched away her rosary, jumped on her 
shoulders, and moved all about the room. As soon as the day broke she hastened to Dakshineswar 
like an insane woman. Of course 

Gopala accompanied her, resting His head on her shoulder. She clearly saw His tiny ruddy 
feet hanging over her breast. She entered Sri Ramakrishna's room. The Master had fallen into 
Samadhi. Like a child, he sat on her lap, and she began to feed him with butter, cream, and other 
delicacies. After some time he regained consciousness and returned to his bed. But the mind of 
Gopala's Mother was still roaming in another plane. She was steeped in bliss. She saw Gopala 
frequently entering the Master's body and again coming out of it. When she returned to her hut, 
still in a dazed condition, Gopala accompanied her. 

She spent about two months in uninterrupted communion with God, the Baby Gopala never 
leaving her for a moment. Then the intensity of her vision was lessened; had it not been, her body 
would have perished. The Master spoke highly of her exalted spiritual condition and said that such 
vision of God was a rare thing for ordinary mortals. The fun-loving Master one day confronted the 
critical Narendranath with this simple-minded woman. No two could have presented a more 

striking contrast. The Master knew of Narendra's lofty contempt for all visions, and he asked the 
old lady to narrate her experiences to Narendra. With great hesitation she told him her story. Now 
and then she interrupted her maternal chatter to ask Narendra: "My son, I am a poor ignorant 
woman. I don't understand anything. You are so learned. Now tell me if these visions of Gopala are 
true." As Narendra listened to the story he was profoundly moved. He said, "Yes, mother, they are 
quite true." Behind his cynicism Narendra, too, possessed a heart full of love and tenderness. 


In 1882 Hriday was, dismissed from service in the Kali temple, for an act of indiscretion, 
and was ordered by the authorities never again to enter the garden. In a way the hand of the 
Divine Mother may be seen even in this. Having taken care of Sri Ramakrishna during the stormy 
days of his spiritual discipline, Hriday had come naturally to consider himself the sole guardian of 
his uncle. None could approach the Master without his knowledge. And he would be extremely 
jealous if Sri Ramakrishna paid attention to anyone else. Hriday's removal made it possible for the 
real devotees of the Master to approach him freely and live with him in the temple garden. 

During the week-ends the householders, enjoying a respite from their office duties, visited 
the Master. The meetings on Sunday afternoons were of the nature of little festivals. 
Refreshments were often served. Professional musicians now and then sang devotional songs. The 
Master and the devotees sang and danced, Sri Ramakrishna frequently going into ecstatic moods. 
The happy memory of such a Sunday would linger long in the minds of the devotees. Those whom 
the Master wanted for special instruction he would ask to visit him on Tuesdays and Saturdays. 
These days were particularly auspicious for the worship of Kali. 

The young disciples destined to be monks, Sri Ramakrishna invited on week-days, when the 
householders were not present. The training of the householders and of the future monks had to 
proceed along entirely different lines. Since M. generally visited the Master on week-ends, the 
Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna does not contain much mention of the future monastic disciples. 

Finally, there was a handful of fortunate disciples, householders as well as youngsters, who 
were privileged to spend nights with the Master in his room. They would see him get up early in 
the morning and walk up and down the room, singing in his sweet voice and tenderly communing 
with the Mother. 


One day, in January 1884, the Master was going toward the pine-grove when he went into a 
trance. He was alone. There was no one to support him or guide his footsteps. He fell to the 
ground and dislocated a bone in his left arm. This accident had a significant influence on his mind, 
the natural inclination of which was to soar above the consciousness of the body. The acute pain in 
the arm forced his mind to dwell on the body and on the world outside. But he saw even in this a 
divine purpose; for, with his mind compelled to dwell on the physical plane, he realized more than 
ever that he was an instrument in the hand of the Divine Mother, who had a mission to fulfil 
through his human body and mind. He also distinctly found that in the phenomenal world God 
manifests Himself, in an inscrutable way, through diverse human beings, both good and evil. Thus 

he would speak of God in the guise of the wicked, God in the guise of the pious, God in the guise of 
the hypocrite, God in the guise of the lewd. He began to take a special delight in watching the 
divine play in the relative world. Sometimes the sweet human relationship with God would appear 
to him more appealing than the all-effacing Knowledge of Brahman. Many a time he would pray: 
"Mother, don't make me unconscious through the Knowledge of Brahman. Don't give me 
Brahmajnana, Mother. Am I not Your child, and naturally timid? I must have my Mother. A million 
salutations to the Knowledge of Brahman! Give it to those who want it." Again he prayed: "0 
Mother, let me remain in contact with men! Don't make me a dried-up ascetic. I want to enjoy 
Your sport in the world." He was able to taste this very rich divine experience and enjoy the love of 
God and the company of His devotees because his mind, on account of the injury to his arm, was 
forced to come down to the consciousness of the body. Again, he would make fun of people who 
proclaimed him as a Divine Incarnation, by pointing to his broken arm. He would say, "Have you 
ever heard of God breaking His arm?" It took the arm about five months to heal. 


In April 1885 the Master's throat became inflamed. Prolonged conversation or absorption in 
Samadhi, making the blood flow into the throat, would aggravate the pain. Yet when the annual 
Vaishnava festival was celebrated at Panihati, Sri Ramakrishna attended it against the doctor's 
advice. With a group of disciples he spent himself in music, dance, and ecstasy. The illness took a 
turn for the worse and was diagnosed as "clergyman's sore throat". The patient was cautioned 
against conversation and ecstasies. Though he followed the physician's directions regarding 
medicine and diet, he could neither control his trances nor withhold from seekers the solace of his 
advice. Sometimes, like a sulky child, he would complain to the Mother about the crowds, who 
gave him no rest day or night. He was overheard to say to Her: "Why do You bring here all these 
worthless people, who are like milk diluted with five times its own quantity of water? My eyes are 
almost destroyed with blowing the fire to dry up the water. My health is gone. It is beyond my 
strength. Do it Yourself, if You want it done. This (pointing to his own body) is but a perforated 
drum, and if you go on beating it day in and day out, how long will it last?" 

But his large heart never turned anyone away. He said, "Let me be condemned to be born 
over and over again, even in the form of a dog, if I can be of help to a single soul." And he bore the 
pain, singing cheerfully, "Let the body be preoccupied with illness, but, mind, dwell for ever in 
God's Bliss!" 

One night he had a haemorrhage of the throat. The doctor now diagnosed the illness as 
cancer. Narendra was the first to break this heart-rending news to the disciples. Within three days 
the Master was removed to Calcutta for better treatment. At Balaram's house he remained a week 
until a suitable place could be found at Syampukur, in the northern section of Calcutta. During this 
week he dedicated himself practically without respite to the instruction of those beloved devotees 
who had been unable to visit him oftener at Dakshineswar. Discourses incessantly flowed from his 
tongue, and he often went into Samadhi. Dr. Mahendra Sarkar, the celebrated homeopath of 
Calcutta, was invited to undertake his treatment. 


In the beginning of September 1885 Sri Ramakrishna was moved to Syampukur. Here 
Narendra organized the young disciples to attend the Master day and night. At first they concealed 
the Master's illness from their guardians; but when it became more serious they remained with 
him almost constantly, sweeping aside the objections of their relatives and devoting themselves 
whole-heartedly to the nursing of their beloved guru. These young men, under the watchful eyes 
of the Master and the leadership of Narendra, became the Antaranga Bhaktas, the devotees of Sri 
Ramakrishna's inner circle. They were privileged to witness many manifestations of the Master's 
divine powers. Narendra received instructions regarding the propagation of his message after his 

The Holy Mother - so Sarada Devi had come to be affectionately known by Sri 
Ramakrishna's devotees - was brought from Dakshineswar to look after the general cooking and to 
prepare the special diet of the patient. The dwelling space being extremely limited, she had to 
adapt herself to cramped conditions. At three o'clock in the morning she would finish her bath in 
the Ganges and then enter a small covered place on the roof, where she spent the whole day 
cooking and praying. After eleven at night, when the visitors went away, she would come down to 
her small bedroom on the first floor to enjoy a few hours' sleep. Thus she spent three months, 
working hard, sleeping little, and praying constantly for the Master's recovery. 

At Syampukur the devotees led an intense life. Their attendance on the Master was in itself 
a form of spiritual discipline. His mind was constantly soaring to an exalted plane of consciousness. 
Now and then they would catch the contagion of his spiritual fervour. 

They sought to divine the meaning of this illness of the Master, whom most of them had 
accepted as an Incarnation of God. One group, headed by Girish with his robust optimism and 
great power of imagination, believed that the illness was a mere pretext to serve a deeper 
purpose. The Master had willed his illness in order to bring the devotees together and promote 
solidarity among them. As soon as this purpose was served, he would himself get rid of the 
disease. A second group thought that the Divine Mother, in whose hand the Master was an 
instrument, had brought about this illness to serve Her own mysterious ends. But the young 
rationalists, led by Narendra, refused to ascribe a supernatural cause to a natural phenomenon. 
They believed that the Master's body, a material thing, was subject, like all other material things, 
to physical laws. Growth, development, decay, and death were laws of nature to which the 
Master's body could not but respond. But though holding differing views, they all believed that it 
was to him alone that they must look for the attainment of their spiritual goal. 

In spite of the physician's efforts and the prayers and nursing of the devotees, the illness 
rapidly progressed. The pain sometimes appeared to be unbearable. The Master lived only on 
liquid food, and his frail body was becoming a mere skeleton. Yet his face always radiated joy, and 
he continued to welcome the visitors pouring in to receive his blessing. When certain zealous 
devotees tried to keep the visitors away, they were told by Girish, "You cannot succeed in it; he 
has been born for this very purpose - to sacrifice himself for the redemption of others." 

The more the body was devastated by illness, the more it became the habitation of the 
Divine Spirit. Through its transparency the gods and goddesses began to shine with ever increasing 
luminosity. On the day of the Kali Puja the devotees clearly saw in him the manifestation of the 
Divine Mother. 

It was noticed at this time that some of the devotees were making an unbridled display of 
their emotions. A number of them, particularly among the householders, began to cultivate, 
though at first unconsciously, the art of shedding tears, shaking the body, contorting the face, and 
going into trances, attempting thereby to imitate the Master. They began openly to declare Sri 
Ramakrishna a Divine Incarnation and to regard themselves as his chosen people, who could 
neglect religious disciplines with impunity. Narendra's penetrating eye soon sized up the situation. 
He found out that some of these external manifestations were being carefully practised at home, 
while some were the outcome of malnutrition, mental weakness, or nervous debility. He 
mercilessly exposed the devotees who were pretending to have visions, and asked all to develop a 
healthy religious spirit. Narendra sang inspiring songs for the younger devotees, read with them 
the Imitation of Christ and the Gita, and held before them the positive ideals of spirituality. 


When Sri Ramakrishna's illness showed signs of aggravation, the devotees, following the 
advice of Dr. Sarkar, rented a spacious garden house at Cossipore, in the northern suburbs of 
Calcutta. The Master was removed to this place on December 11, 1885. 

It was at Cossipore that the curtain fell on the varied activities of the Master's life on the 
physical plane. His soul lingered in the body eight months more. It was the period of his great 
Passion, a constant crucifixion of the body and the triumphant revelation of the Soul. Here one 
sees the humanity and divinity of the Master passing and repassing across a thin border line. Every 
minute of those eight months was suffused with touching tenderness of heart and breath-taking 
elevation of spirit. Every word he uttered was full of pathos and sublimity. 

It took the group only a few days to become adjusted to the new environment. The Holy 
Mother, assisted by Sri Ramakrishna's niece, Lakshmi Devi, and a few woman devotees, took 
charge of the cooking for the Master and his attendants. Surendra willingly bore the major portion 
of the expenses, other householders contributing according to their means. Twelve disciples were 
constant attendants of the Master: Narendra, Rakhal, Baburam, Niranjan, Jogin, Latu, Tarak, the 
elder Gopal, Kali, Sashi, Sarat, and the younger Gopal. Sarada, Harish, Hari, Gangadhar, and Tulasi 
visited the Master from time to time and practised sadhana at home. Narendra, preparing for his 
law examination, brought his books to the garden house in order to continue his studies during the 
infrequent spare moments. He encouraged his brother disciples to intensify their meditation, 
scriptural studies, and other spiritual disciplines. They all forgot their relatives and their worldly 

Among the attendants Sashi was the embodiment of service. He did not practise 
meditation, japa, or any of the other disciplines followed by his brother devotees. He was 
convinced that service to the guru was the only religion for him. He forgot food and rest and was 
ever ready at the Master's bedside. 

Pundit Sasadhar one day suggested to the Master that the latter could remove the illness by 
concentrating his mind on the throat, the scriptures having declared that yogis had power to cure 
themselves in that way. The Master rebuked the pundit. "For a scholar like you to make such a 
proposal!" he said. "How can I withdraw the mind from the Lotus Feet of God and turn it to this 
worthless cage of flesh and blood?" "For our sake at least", begged Narendra and the other 
disciples. "But", replied Sri Ramakrishna, "do you think I enjoy this suffering? I wish to recover, but 
that depends on the Mother." 

A few hours later the Master said to Narendra: "I said to Her: 'Mother, I cannot swallow 
food because of my pain. Make it possible for me to eat a little.' She pointed you all out to me and 
said: 'What? You are eating enough through all these mouths. Isn't that so?' I was ashamed and 
could not utter another word." This dashed all the hopes of the devotees for the Master's 

"I shall make the whole thing public before I go", the Master had said some time before. On 
January 1, 1886, he felt better and came down to the garden for a little stroll. It was about three 
o'clock in the afternoon. Some thirty lay disciples were in the hall or sitting about under the trees. 
Sri Ramakrishna said to Girish, "Well, Girish, what have you seen in me, that you proclaim me 
before everybody as an Incarnation of God?" Girish was not the man to be taken by surprise. He 
knelt before the Master and said with folded hands, "What can an insignificant person like myself 
say about the One whose glory even sages like Vyasa and Valmiki could not adequately measure?" 
The Master was profoundly moved. He said: "What more shall I say? I bless you all. Be illumined!" 
He fell into a spiritual mood. Hearing these words the devotees, one and all, became overwhelmed 
with emotion. They rushed to him and fell at his feet. He touched them all, and each received an 
appropriate benediction. Each of them, at the touch of the Master, experienced ineffable bliss. 
Some laughed, some wept, some sat down to meditate, some began to pray. Some saw light, some 
had visions of their Chosen Ideals, and some felt within their bodies the rush of spiritual power. 

Narendra, consumed with a terrific fever for realization, complained to the Master that all 
the others had attained peace and that he alone was dissatisfied. The Master asked what he 
wanted. Narendra begged for Samadhi, so that he might altogether forget the world for three or 
four days at a time. "You are a fool", the Master rebuked him. "There is a state even higher than 
that. Isn't it you who sing, 'All that exists art Thou'? First of all settle your family affairs and then 
come to me. You will experience a state even higher than Samadhi." 

The Master did not hide the fact that he wished to make Narendra his spiritual heir. 
Narendra was to continue the work after Sri Ramakrishna's passing. Sri Ramakrishna said to him: "I 
leave these young men in your charge. See that they develop their spirituality and do not return 
home." One day he asked the boys, in preparation for a monastic life, to beg their food from door 
to door without thought of caste. They hailed the Master's order and went out with 
begging-bowls. A few days later he gave the ochre cloth of the sannyasi to each of them, including 
Girish, who was now second to none in his spirit of renunciation. Thus the Master himself laid the 
foundation of the future Ramakrishna Order of monks. 

Sri Ramakrishna was sinking day by day. His diet was reduced to a minimum and he found it 
almost impossible to swallow. He whispered to M.: "I am bearing all this cheerfully, for otherwise 
you would be weeping. If you all say that it is better that the body should go rather than suffer this 
torture, I am willing." The next morning he said to his depressed disciples seated near the bed: "Do 
you know what I see? I see that God alone has become everything. Men and animals are only 
frameworks covered with skin, and it is He who is moving through their heads and limbs. I see that 
it is God Himself who has become the block, the executioner, and the victim for the sacrifice." He 
fainted with emotion. Regaining partial consciousness, he said: "Now I have no pain. I am very 
well." Looking at Latu he said: "There sits Latu resting his head on the palm of his hand. To me it is 
the Lord who is seated in that posture." 

The words were tender and touching. Like a mother he caressed Narendra and Rakhal, 
gently stroking their faces. He said in a half whisper to M., "Had this body been allowed to last a 
little longer, many more souls would have been illumined." He paused a moment and then said: 
"But Mother has ordained otherwise. She will take me away lest, finding me guileless and foolish, 
people should take advantage of me and persuade me to bestow on them the rare gifts of 
spirituality." A few minutes later he touched his chest and said: "Here are two beings. One is She 
and the other is Her devotee. It is the latter who broke his arm, and it is he again who is now ill. Do 
you understand me?" After a pause he added: "Alas! To whom shall I tell all this? Who will 
understand me?" "Pain", he consoled them again, "is unavoidable as long as there is a body. The 
Lord takes on the body for the sake of His devotees." 

Yet one is not sure whether the Master's soul actually was tortured by this agonizing 
disease. At least during his moments of spiritual exaltation - which became almost constant during 
the closing days of his life on earth -he lost all consciousness of the body, of illness and suffering. 
One of his attendants said later on: "While Sri Ramakrishna lay sick he never actually suffered pain. 
He would often say: '0 mind! Forget the body, forget the sickness, and remain merged in Bliss.' No, 
he did not really suffer. At times, he would be in a state when the thrill of joy was clearly 
manifested in his body. Even when he could not speak he would let us know in some way that 
there was no suffering, and this fact was clearly evident to all who watched him. People who did 
not understand him thought that his suffering was very great. What spiritual joy he transmitted to 
us at that time! Could such a thing have been possible if he had been suffering physically? It was 
during this period that he taught us again these truths. 'Brahman is always unattached. The three 
gunas are in It, but It is unaffected by them, just as the wind carries odour yet remains odourless.' 
'Brahman is Infinite Being, In finite Wisdom, Infinite Bliss. In It there exist no delusion, no misery, 
no disease, no death, no growth, no decay.' 'The Transcendental Being and the being within are 
one and the same. There is one indivisible Absolute Existence.' " 

The Holy Mother secretly went to a Siva temple across the Ganges to intercede with the 
Deity for the Master's recovery. In a revelation she was told to prepare herself for the inevitable 

One day when Narendra was on the ground floor, meditating, the Master was lying awake 
in his bed upstairs. In the depths of his meditation Narendra felt as though a lamp were burning at 
the back of his head. Suddenly he lost consciousness. It was the yearned-for, all-effacing 

experience of nirvikalpa Samadhi, when the embodied soul realizes its unity with the Absolute. 
After a very long time he regained partial consciousness but was unable to find his body. He could 
see only his head. "Where is my body?" he cried. The elder Gopal entered the room and said, 
"Why, it is here, Naren!" But Narendra could not find it. Gopal, frightened, ran upstairs to the 
Master. Sri Ramakrishna only said: "Let him stay that way for a time. He has worried me long 

After another long period Narendra regained full consciousness. Bathed in peace, he went 
to the Master, who said: "Now the Mother has shown you everything. But this revelation will 
remain under lock and key, and I shall keep the key. When you have accomplished the Mother's 
work you will find the treasure again." 

Some days later, Narendra being alone with the Master, Sri Ramakrishna looked at him and 
went into Samadhi. Narendra felt the penetration of a subtle force and lost all outer 
consciousness. Regaining presently the normal mood, he found the Master weeping. 

Sri Ramakrishna said to him: "Today I have given you my all and I am now only a poor fakir, 
possessing nothing. By this power you will do immense good in the world, and not until it is 
accomplished will you return." Henceforth the Master lived in the disciple. 

Doubt, however, dies hard. After one or two days Narendra said to himself, "If in the midst 
of this racking physical pain he declares his Godhead, then only shall I accept him as an Incarnation 
of God." He was alone by the bedside of the Master. It was a passing thought, but the Master 
smiled. Gathering his remaining strength, he distinctly said, "He who was Rama and Krishna is now, 
in this body, Ramakrishna - but not in your Vedantic sense." Narendra was stricken with shame. 


Sunday, August 15, 1886. The Master's pulse became irregular. The devotees stood by the 
bedside. Toward dusk Sri Ramakrishna had difficulty in breathing. A short time afterwards he 
complained of hunger. A little liquid food was put into his mouth; some of it he swallowed, and the 
rest ran over his chin. Two attendants began to fan him. All at once he went into Samadhi of a 
rather unusual type. The body became stiff. Sasi burst into tears. But after midnight the Master 
revived. He was now very hungry and helped himself to a bowl of porridge. He said he was strong 
again. He sat up against five or six pillows, which were supported by the body of Sashi, who was 
fanning him. Narendra took his feet on his lap and began to rub them. Again and again, the Master 
repeated to him, "Take care of these boys." Then, he asked to lie down. Three times in ringing 
tones he cried the name of Kali, his life's Beloved, and lay back. At two minutes past one there was 
a low sound in his throat and he fell a little to one side. A thrill passed over h is body. His hair stood 
on end. His eyes became fixed on the tip of his nose. His face was lighted with a smile. The final 
ecstasy began. It was Maha-samadhi, total absorption, from which his mind never returned. 
Narendra, unable to bear it, ran downstairs. 

Dr. Sarkar arrived the following noon and pronounced that life had departed not more than 
half an hour before. At five o'clock the Master's body was brought downstairs, laid on a cot, 
dressed in ochre clothes, and decorated with sandal-past and flowers. A procession was formed. 

The passers-by wept as the body was taken to the cremation ground at the Baranagore Ghat on 
the Ganges. 

While the devotees were returning to the garden house, carrying the urn with the sacred 
ashes, a calm resignation came to their souls and they cried, "Victory unto the Guru!" 

The Holy Mother was weeping in her room, not for her husband, but because she felt that 
Mother Kali had left her. As she was about to put off the marks of a Hindu widow, in a moment of 
revelation she heard the words of faith "I have only passed from one room to another." 


February 1882 


IT WAS ON A SUNDAY in spring, a few days after Sri Ramakrishna's birthday, that M. met 
him the first time. Sri Ramakrishna lived at the Kailibari, the temple garden of Mother Kali, on the 
bank of the Ganges at Dakshineswar. 

M., being at leisure on Sundays, had gone with his friend Sidhu to visit several gardens at 
Baranagore. As they were walking in Prasanna Bannerji's garden, Sidhu said: "There is a charming 
place on the bank of the Ganges where a paramahamsa lives. Should you like to go there?" M. 
assented and they started immediately for the Dakshineswar temple garden. They arrived at the 
main gate at dusk and went straight to Sri Ramakrishna's room. And there they found him seated 
on a wooden couch, facing the east. With a smile on his face he was talking of God. The room 
was full of people, all seated on the floor, drinking in his words in deep silence. 

M. stood there speechless and looked on. It was as if he were standing where all the holy 
places met and as if Sukadeva himself were speaking the word of God, or as if Sri Chaitanya were 
singing the name and glories of the Lord in Puri with Ramananda, Swarup, and the other devotees. 


Sri Ramakrishna said: "When, hearing the name of Hari or Rama once, you shed tears and 
your hair stands on end, then you may know for certain that you do not have to perform such 
devotions as the sandhya any more. Then only will you have a right to renounce rituals; or rather, 
rituals will drop away of themselves. Then it will be enough if you repeat only the name of Rama or 
Hari, or even simply Om." Continuing, he said, "The sandhya merges in the Gayatri, and the Gayatri 
merges in Om." 

M. looked around him with wonder and said to himself: "What a beautiful place! What a 
charming man! How beautiful his words are! I have no wish to move from this spot." After a few 
minutes he thought, "Let me see the place first; then I'll come back here and sit down." 

As he left the room with Sidhu, he heard the sweet music of the evening service arising in 
the temple from gong, bell, drum, and cymbal. He could hear music from the nahabat, too, at the 
south end of the garden. The sounds travelled over the Ganges, floating away and losing 

themselves in the distance. A soft spring wind was blowing, laden with the fragrance of flowers; 
the moon had just appeared. It was as if nature and man together were preparing for the 
evening worship. M. and Sidhu visited the twelve 

Siva temples, the Radhakanta temple, and the temple of Bhavatarini. And as M. watched 
the services before the images his heart was filled with joy. 

On the way back to Sri Ramakrishna's room the two friends talked. Sidhu told M. that the 
temple garden had been founded by Rani Rasmani. He said that God was worshipped there daily 
as Kali, Krishna, and Siva, and that within the gates sadhus and beggars were fed. When they 
reached Sri Ramakrishna's door again, they found it shut, and Brinde, the Maid, standing outside. 
M., who had been trained in English manners and would not enter a room without permission, 
asked her, "Is the holy man in?" Brinde replied, "Yes he's in the room." 

M: "How long has he lived here?" 

BRINDE: "Oh, he has been here a long time." 

M: "Does he read many books?" 

BRINDE: "Books? Oh, dear no! They're all on his tongue." 

M. had just finished his studies in college. It amazed him to hear that Sri Ramakrishna 
read no books. 

M: "Perhaps it is time for his evening worship. May we go into the room? Will you tell him 
we are anxious to see him?" 

BRINDE: "Go right in, children. Go in and sit down." 

Entering the room, they found Sri Ramakrishna alone, seated on the wooden couch. Incense 
had just been burnt and all the doors were shut. As he entered, M. with folded hands saluted the 
Master. Then, at the Master's bidding, he and Sidhu sat on the floor. Sri Ramakrishna asked them: 
"Where do you live? What is your occupation? Why have you come to Baranagore?" M. answered 
the questions, but he noticed that now and then the Master seemed to become absent-minded. 
Later he learnt that this mood is called bhava, ecstasy. It is like the state of the angler who has 
been sitting with his rod: the fish comes and swallows the bait, and the float begins to tremble; the 
angler is on the alert; he grips the rod and watches the float steadily and eagerly; he will not speak 
to anyone. Such was the state of Sri Ramakrishna's mind. Later M. heard, and himself noticed, that 
Sri Ramakrishna would often go into this mood after dusk, sometimes becoming totally 
unconscious of the outer world. 

M: "Perhaps you want to perform your evening worship. In that case may we take our 

SRI RAMAKRISHNA (still in ecstasy): "No-evening worship? No, it is not exactly that." 

After a little conversation M. saluted the Master and took his leave. "Come again", Sri 
Ramakrishna said. 

On his way home M. began to wonder: "Who is this serene-looking man who is drawing me 
back to him? Is it possible for a man to be great without being a scholar? How wonderful it is! I 
should like to see him again. He himself said, 'Come again.' I shall go tomorrow or the day after." 


M.'s second visit to Sri Ramakrishna took place on the southeast verandah at eight o'clock in 
the morning. The Master was about to be shaved, the barber having just arrived. As the cold 
season still lingered he had put on a moleskin shawl bordered with red. Seeing M., the Master 
said: "So you have come. That's good. Sit down here." He was smiling. He stammered a little when 
he spoke. 

SRI RAMAKRISHNA (to M.): "Where do you live?" 
M: "In Calcutta, sir." 

SRI RAMAKRISHNA: "Where are you staying here?" 

M: "I am at Baranagore at my older sister's-lshan Kaviraj's house." 

SRI RAMAKRISHNA: "Oh, at Ishan's? Well, how is Keshab now? He was very ill." 

M: "Indeed, I have heard so too, but I believe he is well now." 


SRI RAMAKRISHNA: "I made a vow to worship the Mother with green coconut and sugar on 
Keshab's recovery. Sometimes, in the early hours of the morning, I would wake up and cry before 
Her: 'Mother, please make Keshab well again. If Keshab doesn't live, whom shall I talk with when I 
go to Calcutta?' And so it was that I resolved to offer Her the green coconut and sugar. 

"Tell me, do you know of a certain Mr. Cook who has come to Calcutta? Is it true that he is 
giving lectures? Once Keshab took me on a steamer, and this Mr. Cook, too was in the party." 

M: "Yes, sir, I have heard something like that; but I have never been to his lectures. I don't 
know much about him." 


SRI RAMAKRISHNA: "Pratap's brother came here. He stayed a few days. He had nothing to 
do and said he wanted to live here. I came to know that he had left his wife and children with his 
father-in-law. He has a whole brood of them! So I took him to task. Just fancy! He is the father of 
so many children! Will people from the neighbourhood feed them and bring them up? He isn't 
even ashamed that someone else is feeding his wife and children, and that they have been left at 
his father-in-law's house. I scolded him very hard and asked him to look for a job. Then he was 
willing to leave here. 

"Are you married?" 

M: "Yes, sir." SRI RAMAKRISHNA (with a shudder): "Oh, Ramlal! Alas, he is married!" Like 
one guilty of a terrible offence, M. sat motionless, his eyes fixed on the ground. He thought, "Is it 
such a wicked thing to get married?" The Master continued, "Have you any children?" 

M. this time could hear the beating of his own heart. He whispered in a trembling voice, 
"Yes, sir, I have children." 

Very sadly Sri Ramakrishna said, "Ah me! He even has children!" 

Thus rebuked M. sat speechless. His pride had received a blow. After a few minutes Sri 
Ramakrishna looked at him kindly and said affectionately: "You see, you have certain good signs. 
I know them by looking at a person's forehead, his eyes, and so on. Tell me, now, what kind of 
person is your wife? Has she spiritual attributes, or is she under the power of avidya?" 

"She is all right. But I am afraid she is ignorant." MASTER (with evident displeasure): "And 
you are a man of knowledge!" I had yet to learn the distinction between knowledge and ignorance. 
Up to this time his conception had been that one got knowledge from books and schools. Later on 
he gave up this false conception. He was taught that to know God is knowledge, and not to know 
Him, ignorance. When Sri Ramakrishna exclaimed, "And you are a man of knowledge!", M.'s ego 
was again badly shocked. 


MASTER: "Well, do you believe in God with form or without form?" 

M., rather surprised, said to himself: "How can one believe in God without form when one 
believes in God with form? And if one believes in God without form, how can one believe that God 
has a form? Can these two contradictory ideas be true at the same time? Can a white liquid like 
milk be black?" 

M: "Sir, I like to think of God as formless." 

MASTER: "Very good. It is enough to have faith in either aspect. You believe in God without 
form; that is quite all right. But never for a moment think that this alone is true and all else false. 
Remember that God with form is just as true as God without form. But hold fast to your own 

The assertion that both are equally true amazed M.; he had never learnt this from his 
books. Thus his ego received a third blow; but since it was not yet completely crushed, he came 
forward to argue with the Master a little more. 


M: "Sir, suppose one believes in God with form. Certainly He is not the clay image!" 

MASTER (interrupting): "But why clay? It is an image of Spirit." 

M. could not quite understand the significance of this "image of Spirit". "But, sir," he said to 
the Master, "one should explain to those who worship the clay image that it is not God, and that, 

while worshipping it, they should have God in view and not the clay image. One should not 
worship clay." 


MASTER (sharply): "That's the one hobby of you Calcutta people - giving lectures and 
bringing others to the light! Nobody ever stops to consider how to get the light himself. Who are 
you to teach others? 

"He who is the Lord of the Universe will teach everyone. He alone teaches us, who has 
created this universe; who has made the sun and moon, men and beasts, and all other beings; who 
has provided means for their sustenance; who has given children parents and endowed them with 
love to bring them up. The Lord has done so many things - will He not show people the way to 
worship Him? If they need teaching, then He will be the Teacher. He is our Inner Guide. 

"Suppose there is an error in worshipping the clay image; doesn't God know that through it 
He alone is being invoked? He will he pleased with that very worship. Why should you get a 
headache over it? You had better try for knowledge and devotion yourself." 

This time M. felt that his ego was completely crushed. He now said to himself: "Yes, he has 
spoken the truth. What need is there for me to teach others? Have I known God? Do I really love 
Him? 'I haven't room enough for myself in my bed, and I am inviting my friend to share it with me!' 
I know nothing about God, yet I am trying to teach others. What a shame! How foolish I am! This is 
not mathematics or history or literature, that one can teach it to others. No, this is the deep 
mystery of God. What he says appeals to me." 

This was M.'s first argument with the Master, and happily his last. 

MASTER: "You were talking of worshipping the clay image. Even if the image is made of clay, 
there is need for that sort of worship. God Himself has provided different forms of worship. He 
who is the Lord of the Universe has arranged all these forms to suit different men in different 
stages of knowledge. 

"The mother cooks different dishes to suit the stomachs of her different children. Suppose 
she has five children. If there is a fish to cook, she prepares various dishes from it - pilau, pickled 
fish, fried fish, and so on - to suit their different tastes and powers of digestion. 

"Do you understand me?" 


M. (humbly): "Yes, sir. How, sir, may we fix our minds on God?" 

MASTER: "Repeat God's name and sing His glories, and keep holy company; and now and 
then visit God's devotees and holy men. The mind cannot dwell on God if it is immersed day and 
night in worldliness, in worldly duties and responsibilities; it is most necessary to go into solitude 
now and then and think of God. To fix the mind on God is very difficult, in the beginning, unless 

one practises meditation in solitude. When a tree is young it should be fenced all around; 
otherwise it may be destroyed by cattle. 

"To meditate, you should withdraw within yourself or retire to a secluded corner or to the 
forest. And you should always discriminate between the Real and the unreal. God alone is real, the 
Eternal Substance; all else is unreal, that is, impermanent. By discriminating thus, one should 
shake off impermanent objects from the mind." 


M. (humbly):"How ought we to live in the world?" 

MASTER: "Do all your duties, but keep your mind on God. Live with all - with wife and 
children, father and mother - and serve them. Treat them as if they were very dear to you, but 
know in your heart of hearts that they do not belong to you. 

"A maidservant in the house of a rich man performs all the household duties, but her 
thoughts are fixed on her own home in her native village. She brings up her Master's children as if 
they were her own. She even speaks of them as 'my Rama' or 'my Hari'. But in her own mind she 
knows very well that they do not belong to her at all. 

"The tortoise moves about in the water. But can you guess where her thoughts are? There 
on the bank, where her eggs are lying. Do all your duties in the world, but keep your mind on God. 

"If you enter the world without first cultivating love for God, you will be entangled more 
and more. You will be overwhelmed with its danger, its grief, its sorrows. And the more you think 
of worldly things, the more you will be attached to them. 

"First rub your hands with oil and then break open the jack-fruit; otherwise they will be 
smeared with its sticky milk. First secure the oil of divine love, and then set your hands to the 
duties of the world. 

"But one must go into solitude to attain this divine love. To get butter from milk you must 
let it set into curd in a secluded spot; if it is too much disturbed, milk won't turn into curd. Next, 
you must put aside all other duties, sit in a quiet spot, and churn the curd. Only then do you get 

"Further, by meditating on God in solitude the mind acquires knowledge, dispassion, and 
devotion. But the very same mind goes downward if it dwells in the world. In the world there is 
only one thought: 'woman and gold'. 

"The world is water and the mind milk. If you pour milk into water they become one; you 
cannot find the pure milk any more. But turn the milk into curd and churn it into butter. Then, 
when that butter is placed in water, it will float. So, practise spiritual discipline in solitude and 
obtain the butter of knowledge and love. Even if you keep that butter in the water of the world the 
two will not mix. The butter will float. 


"Together with this, you must practise discrimination. 'Woman and gold' is impermanent. 
God is the only Eternal Substance. What does a man get with money? Food, clothes, and a 
dwelling-place - nothing more. You cannot realize God with its help. Therefore money can never 
be the goal of life. That is the process of discrimination. Do you understand?" 

M: "Yes, sir. I recently read a Sanskrit play called Prabodha Chandrodaya. It deals with 

MASTER: "Yes, discrimination about objects. Consider - what is there in money or in a 
beautiful body? Discriminate and you will find that even the body of a beautiful woman consists of 
bones, flesh, fat, and other disagreeable things. Why should a man give up God and direct his 
attention to such things? Why should a man forget God for their sake?" 


M: "Is it possible to see God?" 

MASTER: "Yes, certainly. Living in solitude now and then, repeating God's name and singing 
His glories, and discriminating between the Real and the unreal - these are the means to employ to 
see Him." 


M: "Under what conditions does one see God?" 

MASTER: "Cry to the Lord with an intensely yearning heart and you will certainly see Him. 
People shed a whole jug of tears for wife and children. They swim in tears for money. But who 
weeps for God? Cry to Him with a real cry." 

The Master sang: 

Cry to your Mother Syama , with a real cry, mind! And how can She hold Herself from 
you? How can Syama stay away? How can your Mother Kali hold Herself away? 

mind, if you are in earnest, bring Her an offering Of bel-leaves and hibiscus flowers; Lay at 
Her feet your offering And with it mingle the fragrant sandal-paste of Love. 

Continuing, he said: "Longing is like the rosy dawn. After the dawn out comes the sun. 
Longing is followed by the vision of God. 

"God reveals Himself to a devotee who feels drawn to Him by the combined force of these 
three attractions: the attraction of worldly possessions for the worldly man, the child's attraction 
for its mother, and the husband's attraction for the chaste wife. If one feels drawn to Him by the 
combined force of these three attractions, then through it one can attain Him. 

"The point is, to love God even as the mother loves her child, the chaste wife her husband, 
and the worldly man his wealth. Add together these three forces of love, these three powers of 
attraction, and give it all to God. Then you will certainly see Him. 

"It is necessary to pray to Him with a longing heart. The kitten knows only how to call its 
mother, crying, 'Mew, mew!' It remains satisfied wherever its mother puts it. And the mother cat 
puts the kitten sometimes in the kitchen, sometimes on the floor, and sometimes on the bed. 
When it suffers it cries only, 'Mew, mew!' That's all it knows. But as soon as the mother hears this 
cry, wherever she may be; she comes to the kitten." 


It was Sunday afternoon when M. came on his third visit to the Master. He had been 
profoundly impressed by his first two visits to this wonderful man. He had been thinking of the 
Master constantly, and of the utterly simple way he explained the deep truths of the spiritual life. 
Never before had he met such a man. 

Sri Ramakrishna was sitting on the small couch. The room was filled with devotees,3 who 
had taken advantage of the holiday to come to see the Master. M. had not yet become acquainted 
with any of them; so he took his seat in a corner. The Master smiled as he talked with the 


He addressed his words particularly to a young man of nineteen, named Narendranath, who 
was a college student and frequented the Sadharan Brahmo Samaj. His eyes were bright, his words 
were full of spirit, and he had the look of a lover of God. 


M. guessed that the conversation was about worldly men, who look down on those who 
aspire to spiritual things. The Master was talking about the great number of such people in the 
world, and about how to deal with them. 

MASTER (to Narendra): "How do you feel about it? Worldly people say all kinds of things 
about the spiritually minded. But look here! When an elephant moves along the street, any 
number of curs and other small animals may bark and cry after it; but the elephant doesn't even 
look back at them. If people speak ill of you, what will you think of them?" 

NARENDRA: "I shall think that dogs are barking at me." 

MASTER (Smiling): "Oh, no! You mustn't go that far, my child! (Laughter). God dwells in all 
beings. But you may be intimate only with good people; you must keep away from the 
evil-minded. God is even in the tiger; but you cannot embrace the tiger on that account. 
(Laughter). You may say, 'Why run away from a tiger, which is also a manifestation of God?' The 
answer to that is: 'Those who tell you to run away are also manifestations of God - and why 
shouldn't you listen to them?' 


"Let me tell you a story. In a forest there lived a holy man who had many disciples. One day 
he taught them to see God in all beings and, knowing this, to bow low before them all. A disciple 
went to the forest to gather wood for the sacrificial fire. Suddenly he heard an outcry: 'Get out of 
the way! A mad elephant is coming!' All but the disciple of the holy man took to their heels. He 
reasoned that the elephant was also God in another form. Then why should he run away from it? 
He stood still, bowed before the animal, and began to sing its praises. The mahut of the elephant 
was shouting: 'Run away! Run away!' But the disciple didn't move. The animal seized him with its 
trunk, cast him to one side, and went on its way. Hurt and bruised, the disciple lay unconscious on 
the ground. Hearing what had happened, his teacher and his brother disciples came to him and 
carried him to the hermitage. With the help of some medicine he soon regained consciousness. 
Someone asked him, 'You knew the elephant was coming - why didn't you leave the place?' 'But', 
he said, 'our teacher has told us that God Himself has taken all these forms, of animals as well as 
men. Therefore, thinking it was only the elephant God that was coming, I didn't run away.' At this 
the teacher said: 'Yes, my child, it is true that the elephant God was coming; but the mahut God 
forbade you to stay there. Since all are manifestations of God, why didn't you trust the mahut's 
words? You should have heeded the words of the mahut God.' (Laughter) 

"It is said in the scriptures that water is a form of God. But some water is fit to be used for 
worship, some water for washing the face, and some only for washing plates or dirty linen. This 
last sort cannot be used for drinking or for a holy purpose. In like manner, God undoubtedly dwells 
in the hearts of all - holy and unholy, righteous and unrighteous; but a man should not have 
dealings with the unholy, the wicked, the impure. He must not be intimate with them. With 
some of them he may exchange words, but with others he shouldn't go even that far. He should 
keep aloof from such people." 


A DEVOTEE: "Sir, if a wicked man is about to do harm, or actually does so, should we keep 
quiet then?" 

MASTER: "A man living in society should make a show of tamas to protect himself from 
evil-minded people. But he should not harm anybody in anticipation of harm likely to be done him. 


"Listen to a story. Some cowherd boys used to tend their cows in a meadow where a 
terrible poisonous snake lived. Everyone was on the alert for fear of it. One day a brahmachari was 
going along the meadow. The boys ran to him and said: 'Revered sir, please don't go that way. A 
venomous snake lives over there.' 'What of it, my good children?' said the brahmachari. 'I am not 
afraid of the snake. I know some mantras.' So saying, he continued on his way along the meadow. 
But the cowherd boys, being afraid, did not accompany him. In the mean time the snake moved 
swiftly toward him with upraised hood. As soon as it came near, he recited a mantra, and the 
snake lay at his feet like an earthworm. The brahmachari said: 'Look here. Why do you go about 
doing harm? Come, I will give you a holy word. By repeating it you will learn to love God. 
Ultimately you will realize Him and so get rid of your violent nature.' Saying this, he taught the 

snake a holy word and initiated him into spiritual life. The snake bowed before the teacher and 
said, 'Revered sir, how shall I practise spiritual discipline?' 'Repeat that sacred word', said the 
teacher, 'and do no harm to anybody'. As he was about to depart, the brahmachari said, 'I shall see 
you again.' 

"Some days passed and the cowherd boys noticed that the snake would not bite. They 
threw stones at it. Still it showed no anger; it behaved as if it were an earthworm. One day one of 
the boys came close to it, caught it by the tail, and, whirling it round and round, dashed it again 
and again on the ground and threw it away. The snake vomited blood and became unconscious. It 
was stunned. It could not move. So, thinking it dead, the boys went their way. 

"Late at night the snake regained consciousness. Slowly and with great difficulty it dragged 
itself into its hole; its bones were broken and it could scarcely move. Many days passed. The snake 
became a mere skeleton covered with a skin. Now and then, at night, it would come out in search 
of food. For fear of the boys it would not leave its hole during the day-time. Since receiving the 
sacred word from the teacher, it had given up doing harm to others. It maintained its life on dirt, 
leaves, or the fruit that dropped from the trees. 

"About a year later the brahmachari came that way again and asked after the snake. The 
cowherd boys told him that it was dead. But he couldn't believe them. He knew that the snake 
would not die before attaining the fruit of the holy word with which it had been initiated. He found 
his way to the place and, searching here and there, called it by the name he had given it. Hearing 
the teacher's voice, it came out of its hole and bowed before him with great reverence. 'How are 
you?' asked the brahmachari. 'I am well, sir', replied the snake. 'But', the teacher asked, 'why are 
you so thin?' The snake replied: 'Revered sir, you ordered me not to harm any body. So I have 
been living only on leaves and fruit. Perhaps that has made me thinner.' 

"The snake had developed the quality of sattva; it could not be angry with anyone. It had 
totally forgotten that the cowherd boys had almost killed it. 

"The brahmachari said: 'It can't be mere want of food that has reduced you to this state. 
There must be some other reason. Think a little.' Then the snake remembered that the boys had 
dashed it against the ground. It said: 'Yes, revered sir, now I remember. The boys one day dashed 
me violently against the ground. They are ignorant, after all. They didn't realize what a great 
change had come over my mind. How could they know I wouldn't bite or harm anyone?' The 
brahmachari exclaimed: 'What a shame! You are such a fool! You don't know how to protect 
yourself. I asked you not to bite, but I didn't forbid you to hiss. Why didn't you scare them by 

"So you must hiss at wicked people. You must frighten them lest they should do you harm. 
But never inject your venom into them. One must not injure others. 

"In this creation of God there is a variety of things: men, animals, trees, plants. Among the 
animals some are good, some bad. There are ferocious animals like the tiger. Some trees bea r fruit 
sweet as nectar, and others bear fruit that is poisonous. Likewise, among human beings, there are 

the good and the wicked, the holy and the unholy. There are some who are devoted to God, and 
others who are attached to the world. 


"Men may be divided into four classes: those bound by the fetters of the world, the seekers 
after liberation, the liberated, and the ever-free. 

"Among the ever-free we may count sages like Narada. They live in the world for the good 
of others, to teach men spiritual truth. 

"Those in bondage are sunk in worldliness and forgetful of God. Not even by mistake do 
they think of God. 

"The seekers after liberation want to free themselves from attachment to the world. Some 
of them succeed and others do not. 

"The liberated souls, such as the sadhus and mahatmas, are not entangled in the world, in 
'woman and gold'. Their minds are free from worldliness. Besides, they always meditate on the 
Lotus Feet of God. 

"Suppose a net has been cast into a lake to catch fish. Some fish are so clever that they are 
never caught in the net. They are like the ever-free. But most of the fish are entangled in the net. 
Some of them try to free themselves from it, and they are like those who seek liberation. But not 
all the fish that struggle succeed. A very few do jump out of the net, making a big splash in the 
water. Then the fishermen shout, 'Look! There goes a big one!' But most of the fish caught in the 
net cannot escape, nor do they make any effort to get out. On the contrary, they burrow into the 
mud with the net in their mouths and lie there quietly, thinking, 'We need not fear any more; we 
are quite safe here.' But the poor things do not know that the fishermen will drag them out with 
the net. These are like the men bound to the world. 

"The bound souls are tied to the world by the fetters of 'woman and gold'. They are bound 
hand and foot. Thinking that 'woman and gold' will make them happy and give them security, they 
do not realize that it will lead them to annihilation. When a man thus bound to the world is about 
to die, his wife asks, 'You are about to go; but what have you done for me?' Again, such is his 
attachment to the things of the world that, when he sees the lamp burning brightly, he says: 'Dim 
the light. Too much oil is being used.' And he is on his death-bed! 

"The bound souls never think of God. If they get any leisure they indulge in idle gossip and 
foolish talk, or they engage in fruitless work. If you ask one of them the reason, he answers, 'Oh, I 
cannot keep still; so I am making a hedge.' When time hangs heavy on their hands they perhaps 
start playing cards." 

There was deep silence in the room. 


A DEVOTEE: "Sir, is there no help, then, for such a worldly person?" 

MASTER: "Certainly there is. From time to time he should live in the company of holy men, 
and from time to time go into solitude to meditate on God. Furthermore, he should practise 
discrimination and pray to God, 'Give me faith and devotion.' Once a person has faith he has 
achieved everything. There is nothing greater than faith. 

(To Kedar) "You must have heard about the tremendous power of faith. It is said in the 
purana that Rama, who was God Himself - the embodiment of Absolute Brahman - had to build a 
bridge to cross the sea to Ceylon. But Hanuman, trusting in Rama's name, cleared the sea in one 
jump and reached the other side. He had no need of a bridge. (All laugh) 

"Once a man was about to cross the sea. Bibhishana wrote Rama's name on a leaf, tied it in 
a corner of the man's wearing-cloth, and said to him: 'Don't be afraid. Have faith and walk on the 
water. But look here - the moment you lose faith you will be drowned.' The man was walking easily 
on the water. Suddenly he had an intense desire to see what was tied in his cloth. He opened it 
and found only a leaf with the name of Rama written on it. 'What is this?' he thought. 'Just the 
name of Rama!' As soon as doubt entered his mind he sank under the water. 

"If a man has faith in God, then even if he has committed the most heinous sins -such as 
killing a cow, a brahmin, or a woman - he will certainly be saved through his faith. Let him only say 
to God, '0 Lord, I Will not repeat such an action', and he need not be afraid of anything." 

When he had said this, the Master sang: 

If only I can pass away repeating Durga's name, How canst Thou then, Blessed One, 
Withhold from me deliverance, Wretched though I may be? 1 may have stolen a drink of wine, or 
killed a child unborn, Or slain a woman or a cow, Or even caused a brahmin's death; But, though it 
all be true, Nothing of this can make me feel the least uneasiness; For through the power of Thy 
sweet name My wretched soul may still aspire Even to Brahmanhood. 


Pointing to Narendra, the Master said: "You all see this boy. He behaves that way here. A 
naughty boy seems very gentle when with his father. But he is quite another person when he plays 
in the chandni. Narendra and people of his type belong to the class of the ever-free. They are 
never entangled in the world. When they grow a little older they feel the awakening of inner 
consciousness and go directly toward God. They come to the world only to teach others. They 
never care for anything of the world. They are never attached to 'woman and gold'. 

"The Vedas speak of the homa bird. It lives high up in the sky and there it lays its egg. As 
soon as the egg is laid it begins to fall; but it is so high up that it continues to fall for many days. As 
it falls it hatches, and the chick falls. As the chick falls its eyes open; it grows wings. As soon as its 
eyes open, it realizes that it is falling and will be dashed to pieces on touching the earth. Then it at 
once shoots up toward the mother bird high in the sky." 

At this point Narendra left the room. Kedar, Prankrishna, M., and many others remained. 


MASTER: "You see, Narendra excels in singing, playing on instruments, study, and 
everything. The other day he had a discussion with Kedar and tore his arguments to shreds. (All 

(To M.) "Is there any book in English on reasoning?" 
M: "Yes, sir, there is. It is called Logic." 
MASTER: "Tell me what it says." 

M. was a little embarrassed. He said: "One part of the book deals with deduction from the 
general to the particular. For example: All men are mortal. Scholars are men. Therefore scholars 
are mortal. Another part deals with the method of reasoning from the particular to the general. 
For example: This crow is black. That crow is black. The crows we see everywhere are black. 
Therefore all crows are black. But there may be a fallacy in a conclusion arrived at in this way; for 
on inquiry one may find a white crow in some country. There is another illustration: If there is rain, 
there is, or has been, a cloud. Therefore rain comes from a cloud. Still another example: This man 
has thirty-two teeth. That man has thirty-two teeth. All the men we see have thirty-two teeth. 
Therefore men have thirty-two teeth. English logic deals with such inductions and deductions." 

Sri Ramakrishna barely heard these words. While listening he became absent-minded. So 
the conversation did not proceed far. 

When the meeting broke up, the devotees sauntered in the temple garden. M. went in the 
direction of the Panchavati. It was about five o'clock in the afternoon. After a while he returned to 
the Master's room. There, on the small north verandah, he witnessed an amazing sight. 

Sri Ramakrishna was standing still, surrounded by a few devotees, and Narendra was 
singing. M. had never heard anyone except the Master sing so sweetly. When he looked at Sri 
Ramakrishna he was struck with wonder; for the Master stood motionless, with eyes transfixed. 
He seemed not even to breathe. A devotee told M. that the Master was in samadhi. M. had never 
before seen or heard of such a thing. Silent with wonder, he thought: "Is it possible for a man to be 
so oblivious of the outer world in the consciousness of God? How deep his faith and devotion must 
be to bring about such a state!" 

Narendra was singing: 

Meditate, my mind, on the Lord Hari, The Stainless One, Pure Spirit through and through. 
How peerless is the Light that in Him shines! How soul-bewitching is His wondrous form! How dear 
is He to all His devotees! 

Ever more beauteous in fresh-blossoming love That shames the splendour of a million 
moons, Like lightning gleams the glory of His form, Raising erect the hair for very joy. 

The Master shuddered when this last line was sung. His hair stood on end, and tears of joy 
streamed down his cheeks. Now and then his lips parted in a smile. Was he seeing the peerless 
beauty of God, "that shames the splendour of a million moons"? Was this the vision of God, the 

Essence of Spirit? How much austerity and discipline, how much faith and devotion, must be 
necessary for such a vision! 

The song went on: 

Worship His feet in the lotus of your heart; with mind serene and eyes made radiant with 
heavenly love, behold that matchless sight. 

Again that bewitching smile. The body motionless as before, the eyes half shut, as if 
beholding a strange inner vision. 

The song drew to a close. Narendra sang the last lines: 

Caught in the spell of His love's ecstasy, Immerse yourself for evermore, mind" In Him 
who is Pure Knowledge and Pure Bliss. 

The sight of the samadhi, and the divine bliss he had witnessed, left an indelible impression 
on M.'s mind. He returned home deeply moved. Now and then he could hear within himself the 
echo of those soul-intoxicating lines: 

Immerse yourself for evermore, mind, In Him who is Pure Knowledge and Pure Bliss. 

The next day, too, was a holiday for M. He arrived at Dakshineswar at three o'clock in the 
afternoon. Sri Ramakrishna was in his room; Narendra, Bhavanath, and a few other devotees 
were sitting on a mat spread on the floor. They were all young men of nineteen or twenty. 
Seated on the small couch, Sri Ramakrishna was talking with them and smiling. 

No sooner had M. entered the room than the Master laughed aloud and said to the boys, 
"There! He has come again." They all joined in the laughter. M. bowed low before him and took a 
seat. Before this he had saluted the Master with folded hands, like one with an English 
education. But that day he learnt to fall down at his feet in orthodox Hindu fashion. 


Presently the Master explained the cause of his laughter to the devotees, He said: "A man 
once fed a peacock with a pill of opium at four o'clock in the afternoon. The next day, exactly at 
that time, the peacock came back. It had felt the intoxication of the drug and returned just in time 
to have another dose. "(All laugh.) 

M. thought this a very apt illustration. Even at home he had been unable to banish the 
thought of Sri Ramakrishna for a moment. His mind was constantly at Dakshineswar and he had 
counted the minutes until he should go again. 

In the mean time the Master was having great fun with the boys, treating them as if they 
were his most intimate friends. Peals of side-splitting laughter filled the room, as if it were a mart 
of joy. The whole thing was a revelation to M. He thought: "Didn't I see him only yesterday 
intoxicated with God? Wasn't he swimming then in the Ocean of Divine Love - a sight I had never 

seen before? And today the same person is behaving like an ordinary man! Wasn't it he who 
scolded me on the first day of my coming here? Didn't he admonish me, saying, 'And you are a 
man of knowledge!'? Wasn't it he who said to me that God with form is as true as God without 
form? Didn't he tell me that God alone is real and all else illusory? Wasn't it he who advised me to 
live in the world unattached, like a maidservant in a rich man's house?" 

Sri Ramakrishna was having great fun with the young devotees; now and then he glanced at 
M. He noticed that M. sat in silence. The Master said to Ramlal: "You see, he is a little advanced in 
years, and therefore somewhat serious. He sits quiet while the youngsters are making merry." M. 
was then about twenty-eight years old. 


The conversation drifted to Hanuman, whose picture hung on the wall in the Master's 


Sri Ramakrishna said: "Just imagine Hanuman's state of mind. He didn't care for money, 
honour, creature comforts, or anything else. He longed only for God. When he was running away 
with the heavenly weapon that had been secreted in the crystal pillar, Mandodari began to tempt 
him with various fruits so that he might come down and drop the weapon. But he couldn't be 
tricked so easily. In reply to her persuasions he sang this song: 

Am I in need of fruit? I have the Fruit that makes this life Fruitful indeed. Within my heart 

The Tree of Rama grows, Bearing salvation for its fruit. 

Under the Wish-fulfilling Tree Of Rama do I sit at ease, Plucking whatever fruit I will. But if 
you speak of fruit No beggar, I, for common fruit. Behold, I go, Leaving a bitter fruit for you." 

As Sri Ramakrishna was singing the song he went into samadhi. Again the half-closed eyes 
and motionless body that one sees in his photograph. Just a minute before, the devotees had been 
making merry in his company. Now all eyes were riveted on him. Thus for the second time M. saw 
the Master in samadhi. 

After a long time the Master came back to ordinary consciousness. His face lighted up with 
a smile, and his body relaxed; his senses began to function in a normal way. He shed tears of joy as 
he repeated the holy name of Rama. M. wondered whether this very saint was the person who a 
few minutes earlier had been behaving like a child of five. 

The Master said to Narendra and M., "I should like to hear you speak and argue in English." 
They both laughed. But they continued to talk in their mother tongue. It was impossible for M. to 
argue any more before the Master. Though Ramakrishna insisted, they did not talk in English. 

At five o'clock in the afternoon all the devotees except Narendra and M. took leave of the 
Master. As M. was walking in the temple garden, he suddenly came upon the Master talking to 
Narendra on the bank of the goose-pond. Sri Ramakrishna said to Narendra: "Look here. Come a 
little more often. You are a new-comer. On first acquaintance people visit each other quite often, 

as is the case with a lover and his sweetheart. (Narendra and M. laugh.) So please come, won't 

Narendra, a member of the Brahmo Samaj, was very particular about his promises. He said 
with a smile, "Yes, sir, I shall try." 

As they were returning to the Master's room, Sri Ramakrishna said to M.: "When peasants 
go to market to buy bullocks for their ploughs, they can easily tell the good from the bad by 
touching their tails. On being touched there, some meekly lie down on the ground. The peasants 
recognize that these are without mettle and so reject them. They select only those bullocks that 
frisk about and show spirit when their tails are touched. Narendra is like a bullock of this latter 
class. He is full of spirit within." 

The Master smiled as he said this, and continued: "There are some people who have no grit 
whatever. They are like flattened rice soaked in milk - soft and mushy. No inner strength!" 

It was dusk. The Master was meditating on God. He said to M.: "Go and talk to Narendra. 
Then tell me what you think of him." 

Evening worship was over in the temples. M. met Narendra on the bank of the Ganges and 
they began to converse. Narendra told M. about his studying in college, his being a member of the 
Brahmo Samaj, and so on. 

It was now late in the evening and time for M.'s departure; but he felt reluctant to go and 
instead went in search of Sri Ramakrishna. He had been fascinated by the Master's singing and 
wanted to hear more. At last he found the Master pacing alone in the natmandir in front of the 
Kali temple. A lamp was burning in the temple on either side of the image of the Divine Mother. 
The single lamp in the spacious natmandir blended light and darkness into a kind of mystic twilight, 
in which the figure of the Master could be dimly seen. 

M. had been enchanted by the Master's sweet music. With some hesitation he asked him 
whether there would be any more singing that evening. "No, not tonight", said Sri Ramakrishna 
after a little reflection. Then, as if remembering something, he added: "But I'm going soon to 
Balaram Bose's house in Calcutta. Come there and you'll hear me sing." M. agreed to go. 

MASTER: "Do you know Balaram Bose?" 

M: "No, sir. I don't." 

MASTER: "He lives in Bosepara." 

M: "Well, sir, I shall find him." 

As Sri Ramakrishna walked up and down the hall with M., he said to him: "Let me ask you 
something. What do you think of me?" 

M. remained silent. Again Sri Ramakrishna asked: "What do you think of me? How many 
annas of knowledge of God have I?" 

M: "I don't understand what you mean by 'annas'. But of this I am sure: I have never before 
seen such knowledge, ecstatic love, faith in God, renunciation, and catholicity anywhere." 

The Master laughed. 

M. bowed low before him and took his leave. He had gone as far as the main gate of the 
temple garden when he suddenly remembered something and came back to Sri Ramakrishna, who 
was still in the natmandir. In the dim light the Master, all alone, was pacing the hall, rejoicing in 
the Self as the lion lives and roams alone in the forest. 

In silent wonder M. surveyed that great soul. 

MASTER (to M.): "What makes you come back?" 

M: "Perhaps the house you asked me to go to belongs to a rich man. They may not let me 
in. I think I had better not go. I would rather meet you here." 

MASTER: "Oh, no! Why should you think that? Just mention my name. Say that you want to 
see me; then someone will take you to me." 

M. nodded his assent and, after saluting the Master, took his leave. 


March 11, 1882 

Master at Balaram's house 

ABOUT EIGHT O'CLOCK in the morning Sri Ramakrishna went as planned to Balaram Bose's 
house in Calcutta. It was the day of the Dolayatra. Ram, Manomohan, Rakhal, Nityagopal, and 
other devotees were with him. M., too, came, as bidden by the Master. 


The devotees and the Master sang and danced in a state of divine fervour. Several of them 
were in an ecstatic mood. Nityagopal's chest glowed with the upsurge of emotion, and Rakhal lay 
on the floor in ecstasy, completely unconscious of the world. The Master put his hand on Rakhal's 
chest and said: "Peace. Be quiet." This was Rakhal's first experience of ecstasy. He lived with his 
father in Calcutta and now and then visited the Master at Dakshineswar. About this time he had 
studied a short while in Vidyasagar's school at Syampukur. 

When the music was over, the devotees sat down for their meal. Balaram stood there 
humbly, like a servant. Nobody would have taken him for the master of the house. M. was still a 
stranger to the devotees, having met only Narendra at Dakshineswar. 

A few days later M. visited the Master at Dakshineswar. It was between four and five 
o'clock in the afternoon. The Master and he were sitting on the steps of the Siva temples. Looking 
at the temple of Radhakanta, across the courtyard, the Master went into an ecstatic mood. 

Since his nephew Hriday's dismissal from the temple, Sri Ramakrishna had been living 
without an attendant. On account of his frequent spiritual moods he could hardly take care of 
himself. The lack of an attendant caused him great inconvenience. 


Sri Ramakrishna was talking to Kali, the Divine Mother of the Universe. He said: "Mother, 
everyone says, 'My watch alone is right.' The Christians, the Brahmos, the Hindus, the 
Mussalmans, all say, 'My religion alone is true.' But, Mother, the fact is that nobody's watch is 
right. Who can truly understand Thee? But if a man prays to Thee with a yearning heart, he can 
reach Thee, through Thy grace, by any path. Mother, show me some time how the Christians pray 
to Thee in their churches. But Mother, what will people say if I go in? Suppose they make a fuss! 
Suppose they don't allow me to enter the Kali temple again! Well then, show me the Christian 
worship from the door of the church." 


Another day the Master was seated on the small couch in his room, with his usual beaming 
countenance. M. arrived with Kalikrishna, who did not know where his friend M. was taking him. 
He had only been told: "If you want to see a grog-shop, then come with me. You will see a huge jar 
of wine there." M. related this to Sri Ramakrishna, who laughed about it. The Master said: "The 
bliss of worship and communion with God is the true wine, the wine of ecstatic love. The goal of 
human life is to love God, Bhakti is the one essential thing. To know God through jnana and 
reasoning is extremely difficult." 

Then the Master sang: 

Who is there that can understand what Mother Kali is? Even the six darsanas are powerless 
to reveal Her.... 

The Master said, again: "The one goal of life is to cultivate love for God, the love that the 
milkmaids, the milkmen, and the cowherd boys of Vrindavan felt for Krishna. When Krishna went 
away to Mathura, the cowherds roamed about weeping bitterly because of their separation from 

Saying this the Master sang, with his eyes turned upward: 

Just now I saw a youthful cowherd With a young calf in his arms; There he stood, by one 
hand holding The branch of a young tree. "Where are You, Brother Kanai?" he cried; But "Kanai" 
scarcely could he utter; "Ka" was as much as he could say. He cried, "Where are You, Brother?" 
And his eyes were filled with tears. 

When M. heard this song of the Master's, laden with love, his eyes were moist with tears. 

April 2, 1882 Master's visit to Keshab 

Sri Ramakrishna was sitting in the drawing-room of Keshab Chandra Sen's house in Calcutta; 
it was five o'clock in the afternoon. When Keshab was told of his arrival, he came to the 

drawing-room dressed to go out, for he was about to call on a sick friend. Now he cancelled his 
plan. The Master said to him: "You have so many things to attend to. Besides, you have to edit a 
newspaper. You have no time to come to Dakshineswar; so I have come to see you. When I heard 
of your illness I vowed green coconut and sugar to the Divine Mother for your recovery. I said to 
Her, 'Mother, if something happens to Keshab, with whom shall I talk in Calcutta?' " 

Sri Ramakrishna spoke to Pratap and the other Brahmo devotees. M. was seated near by. 
Pointing to him, the Master said to Keshab: "Will you please ask him why he doesn't come to 
Dakshineswar any more? He repeatedly tells me he is not attached to his wife and children." M. 
had been paying visits to the Master for about a month; his absence for a time from Dakshineswar 
called forth this remark. Sri Ramakrishna had asked M. to write to him, if his coming were delayed. 

Pundit Samadhyayi was present. The Brahmo devotees introduced him to Sri Ramakrishna 
as a scholar well versed in the Vedas and the other scriptures. The Master said, "Yes, I can see 
inside him through his eyes, as one can see the objects in a room through the glass door." 

Trailokya sang. Suddenly the Master stood up and went into samadhi, repeating the 
Mother's name. Coming down a little to the plane of sense consciousness, he danced and sang: 

I drink no ordinary wine, but Wine of Everlasting Bliss, as I repeat my Mother Kali's name; It 
so intoxicates my mind that people take me to be drunk! First my guru gives molasses for the 
making of the Wine; My longing is the ferment to transform it. Knowledge, the maker of the Wine, 
prepares it for me then; And when it is done, my mind imbibes it from the bottle of the mantra, 
Taking the Mother's name to make it pure. Drink of this Wine, says Ramprasad, and the four fruits 
of life are yours. 

The Master looked at Keshab tenderly, as if Keshab were his very own. He seemed to fear 
that Keshab might belong to someone else, that is to say, that he might become a worldly person. 
Looking at him, the Master sang again: 

We are afraid to speak, and yet we are afraid to keep still; Our minds, Radha, half believe 
that we are about to lose you! We tell you the secret that we know -The secret whereby we 
ourselves, and others, with our help, Have passed through many a time of peril; Now it all depends 
on you. 

Quoting the last part of the song, he said to Keshab: "That is to say, renounce everything 
and call on God. He alone is real; all else is illusory. Without the realization of God everything is 
futile. This is the great secret." 

The Master sat down again and began to converse with the devotees. For a while he 
listened to a piano recital, enjoying it like a child. Then he was taken to the inner apartments, 
where he was served with refreshments and the ladies saluted him. 

As the Master was leaving Keshab's house, the Brahmo devotees accompanied him 
respectfully to his carriage. 

Sunday, April 9, 1882 

Sri Ramakrishna was seated with his devotees in the drawing-room of Prankrishna 
Mukherji's house in Calcutta; it was between one and two o'clock in the afternoon. Since 

Colonel Viswanath4 lived in that neighbourhood, the Master intended to visit him before 
going to see Keshab at the Lily Cottage. A number of neighbours and other friends of Prankrishna 
had been invited to meet Sri Ramakrishna. They were all eager to hear his words. 


MASTER: "God and His glory. This universe is His glory. People see His glory and forget 
everything. They do not seek God, whose glory is this world. All seek to enjoy 'woman and gold'. 
But there is too much misery and worry in that. This world is like the whirlpool of the Visalaksi. 
Once a boat gets into it there is no hope of its rescue. Again, the world is like a thorny bush: you 
have hardly freed yourself from one set of thorns before you find yourself entangled in another. 
Once you enter a labyrinth you find it very difficult to get out. Living in the world, a man becomes 
seared, as it were." 

A DEVOTEE: "Then what is the way, sir?" 

Prayer and holy company & Earnest longing 

MASTER: "Prayer and the company of holy men. You cannot get rid of an ailment without 
the help of a physician. But it is not enough to be in the company of religious people only for a day. 
You should constantly seek it, for the disease has become chronic. Again, you can't understand the 
pulse rightly unless you live with a physician. Moving with him constantly, you learn to distinguish 
between the pulse of phlegm and the pulse of bile." 

DEVOTEE: "What is the good of holy company?" 

MASTER: "It begets yearning for God. It begets love of God. Nothing whatsoever is achieved 
in spiritual life without yearning. By constant living in the company of holy men, the soul becomes 
restless for God. This yearning is like the state of mind of a man who has someone ill in the family. 
His mind is in a state of perpetual restlessness, thinking how the sick person may be cured. Or 
again, one should feel a yearning for God like the yearning of a man who has lost his job and is 
wandering from one office to another in search of work. If he is rejected at a certain place which 
has no vacancy, he goes there again the next day and inquires, 'Is there an vacancy today?' 

"There is another way: earnestly praying to God. God is our very own. We should say to 
Him: '0 God, what is Thy nature? Reveal Thyself to me. Thou must show Thyself to me; for why 
else hast Thou created me?' Some Sikh devotees once said to me, 'God is full of compassion.' I 
said: 'But why should we call Him compassionate? He is our Creator. What is there to be wondered 
at if He is kind to us? Parents bring up their children. Do you call that an act of kindness? They 
must act that way.' Therefore we should force our demands on God. He is our Father and Mother, 
isn't He? If the son demands his patrimony and gives up food and drink in order to enforce his 
demand, then the parents hand his share over to him three years before the legal time. Or when 
the child demands some pice from his mother, and says over and over again: 'Mother, give me a 

couple of pice. I beg you on my knees!' - then the mother, seeing his earnestness, and unable to 
bear it any more, tosses the money to him. 

"There is another benefit from holy company. It helps one cultivate discrimination between 
the Real and the unreal. God alone is the Real, that is to say, the Eternal Substance, and the world 
is unreal, that is to say, transitory. As soon as a man finds his mind wandering away to the unreal, 
he should apply discrimination. The moment an elephant stretches out its trunk to eat a 
plantain-tree in a neighbour's garden, it gets a blow from the iron goad of the driver." 


A NEIGHBOUR: "Why does a man have sinful tendencies?" 

MASTER: "In God's creation there are all sorts of things. He has created bad men as well as 
good men. It is He who gives us good tendencies, and it is He again who gives us evil tendencies." 

NEIGHBOUR: "In that case we aren't responsible for our sinful actions, are we?" 

MASTER: "Sin begets its own result. This is God's law. Won't you burn our tongue if you 
chew a chilli? In his youth Mathur6 led a rather fast life; so he suffered from various diseases 
before his death. 

"One may not realize this in youth. I have looked into the hearth in the kitchen of the Kali 
temple when logs are being burnt. At first the wet wood burns rather well. It doesn't seem then 
that it contains much moisture. But when the wood is sufficiently burnt, all the moisture runs back 
to one end. At last water squirts from the fuel and puts out the fire. 

"So one should be careful about anger, passion, and greed. Take, for instance, the case of 
Hanuman. In a fit of anger he burnt Ceylon. At last he remembered that Sita was living in the asoka 
grove. Then he began to tremble lest the fire should injure her." 

NEIGHHBOUR: "Why has God created wicked people?" 

MASTER: "That is His will, His play. In His maya there exists avidya as well as vidya. Darkness 
is needed too. It reveals all the more the glory of light. There is no doubt that anger, lust, and 
greed are evils. Why, then, has God created them? In order to create saints. A man becomes a 
saint by conquering the senses. Is there anything impossible for a man who has subdued his 
passions? He can even realize God, through His grace. Again, see how His whole play of creation is 
perpetuated through lust. 

"Wicked people are needed too. At one time the tenants of an estate became unruly. The 
landlord had to send Golak Choudhury, who was a ruffian. He was such a harsh administrator that 
the tenants trembled at the very mention of his name. 

"There is need of everything. Once Sita said to her Husband: 'Rama, it would be grand if 
every house in Ayhodhya were a mansion! I find many houses old and dilapidated.' 'But, my dear,' 
said Rama, 'if all the houses were beautiful ones, what would the masons do?' (Laughter.) God has 
created all kinds of things. He has created good trees, and poisonous plants and weeds as well. 

Among the animals there are good, bad, and all kinds of creatures - tigers, lions, snakes, and so 


NEIGHTBOUR: "Sir, is it ever possible to realize God while leading the life of a householder?" 

MASTER: "Certainly. But as I said just now, one must live in holy company and pray 
unceasingly. One should weep for God. When the impurities of the mind are thus washed away, 
one realizes God. The mind is like a needle covered with mud, and God is like a magnet. The 
needle cannot be united with the magnet unless it is free from mud. Tears wash away the mud, 
which is nothing but lust, anger, greed, and other evil tendencies, and the inclination to worldly 
enjoyments as well. As soon as the mud is washed away, the magnet attracts the needle, that is to 
say, man realizes God. Only the pure in heart see God. A fever patient has an excess of the watery 
element in his system. What can quinine do for him unless that is removed? 

"Why shouldn't one realize God while living in the world? But, as I said, one must live in holy 
company, pray to God, weeping for His grace, and now and then go into solitude. Unless the plants 
on a foot-path are protected at first by fences, they are destroyed by cattle." 


NEIGHBOUR: "Then householders, too, will have the vision of God, won't they?" 

MASTER: "Everybody will surely be liberated. But one should follow the instructions of the 
guru; if one follows a devious path, one will suffer in trying to retrace one's steps. It takes a long 
time to achieve liberation. A man may fail to obtain it in this life. Perhaps he will realize God only 
after many births. Sages like Janaka performed worldly duties. They performed them, bearing God 
in their minds, as a dancing-girl dances, keeping jars or trays on her head. Haven't you seen how 
the women in northwest India walk, talking and laughing while carrying water-pitchers on their 

NEIGHBOUR: "You just referred to the instructions of the guru. How shall we find him?" 

MASTER: "Anyone and everyone cannot be a guru. A huge timber floats on the water and 
can carry animals as well. But a piece of worthless wood sinks, if a man sits on it, and drowns him. 
Therefore in every age God incarnates Himself as the guru, to teach humanity. Satchidananda 
alone is the guru. 

"What is knowledge? And what is the nature of this ego? 'God alone is the Doer, and none 
else' - that is knowledge. I am not the doer; I am a mere instrument in His hand. Therefore I say: '0 
Mother, Thou art the Operator and I am the machine. Thou art the Indweller and I am the house. 
Thou art the Driver and I am the carriage. I move as Thou movest me. I do as Thou makest me do. I 
speak as Thou makest me speak. Not I, not I, but Thou, but Thou.' " 

From Prankrishna's house the Master went to Colonel Viswanath's and from there to the 
Lily Cottage. 


August 5, 1882 

PUNDIT ISWAR CHANDRA VIDYASAGAR was born in the village of Beersingh, not far from 
Kamarpukur, Sri Ramakrishna's birthplace. He was known as a great scholar, educator, writer, and 
philanthropist. One of the creators of modern Bengali, he was also well versed in Sanskrit grammar 
and poetry. His generosity made his name a household word with his countrymen, most of his 
income being given in charity to widows, orphans, indigent students, and other needy people. Nor 
was his compassion limited to human beings: he stopped drinking milk for years so that the calves 
should not be deprived of it, and he would not drive in a carriage for fear of causing discomfort to 
the horses. He was a man of indomitable spirit, which he showed when he gave up the lucrative 
position of principal of the Sanskrit College of Calcutta because of a disagreement with the 
authorities. His affection for his mother was especially deep. One day, in the absence of a 
ferryboat, he swam a raging river at the risk of his life to fulfil her wish that he should be present at 
his brother's wedding. His whole life was one of utter simplicity. The title Vidyasagar, meaning 
"Ocean of Learning", was given him in recognition of his vast erudition. 

Master's visit to the scholar 

Sri Ramakrishna had long wanted to visit Iswar Chandra Vidyasagar. Learning from M. that 
he was a teacher at Vidyasagar's school, the Master asked: "Can you take me to Vidyasagar? I 
should like very much to see him." M. told Iswar Chandra of Sri Ramakrishna's wish, and the pundit 
gladly agreed that M. should bring the Master, some Saturday afternoon at four o'clock. He only 
asked M. what kind of paramahamsa the Master was, saying, "Does he wear an ochre cloth?" M. 
answered: "No, sir. He is an unusual person. He wears a red-bordered cloth and polished slippers. 
He lives in a room in Rani Rasmani's temple garden. In his room there is a couch with a mattress 
and mosquito net. He has no outer indication of holiness. But he doesn't know anything except 
God. Day and night he thinks of God alone." 

On the afternoon of August 5 the Master left Dakshineswar in a hackney carriage, 
accompanied by Bhavanath, M., and Hazra. Vidyasagar lived in Badurbagan, in central Calcutta, 
about six miles from Dakshineswar. On the way Sri Ramakrishna talked with his companions; but 
as the carriage neared Vidyasagar's house his mood suddenly changed. He was overpowered with 
divine ecstasy. Not noticing this, M. pointed out the garden house where Raja Rammohan Roy had 
lived. The Master was annoyed and said, "I don't care about such things now." He was going into 
an ecstatic state. 

The carriage stopped in front of. Vidyasagar's house. The Master alighted, supported by M., 
who then led the way. In the courtyard were many flowering plants. As the Master walked to the 
house he said to M., like a child, pointing to his shirt-button: "My shirt is unbuttoned. Will that 
offend Vidyasagar?" "Oh, no!" said M. "Don't be anxious about it. 

Nothing about you will be offensive. You don't have to button your shirt." He accepted the 
assurance simply, like a child. 

Vidyasagar was about sixty-two years old, sixteen or seventeen years older than the Master. 
He lived in a two-storey house built in the English fashion, with lawns on all sides and surrounded 
by a high wall. After climbing the stairs to the second floor, Sri Ramakrishna and his devotees 
entered a room at the far end of which Vidyasagar was seated facing them, with a table in front of 
him. To the right of the table was a bench. Some friends of their host occupied chairs on the other 
two sides. 

Vidyasagar rose to receive the Master. Sri Ramakrishna stood in front of the bench, with 
one hand resting on the table. He gazed at Vidyasagar, as if they had known each other before, 
and smiled in an ecstatic mood. In that mood he remained standing a few minutes. Now and then, 
to bring his mind back to normal consciousness, he said, "I shall have a drink of water." 

In the mean time the young members of the household and a few friends and relatives of 
Vidyasagar had gathered around. Sri Ramakrishna, still in an ecstatic mood, sat on the bench. A 
young man, seventeen or eighteen years old, who had come to Vidyasagar to seek financial help 
for his education, was seated there. The Master sat down at a little distance from the boy, saying 
in an abstracted mood: "Mother, this boy is very much attached to the world. He belongs to Thy 
realm of ignorance." 

Vidyasagar told someone to bring water and asked M. whether the Master would like some 
sweetmeats also. Since M. did not object, Vidyasagar himself went eagerly to the inner apartments 
and brought the sweets. They were placed before the Master. Bhavanath and Hazra also received 
their share. When they were offered to M., Vidyasagar said: "Oh, he is like one of the family. We 
needn't worry about him." Referring to a young devotee, the Master said to Vidyasagar: "He is a 
nice young man and is sound at the core. He is like the river Phalgu. The surface is covered with 
sand; but if you dig a little you will find water flowing underneath." 

After taking some of the sweets, the Master, with a smile, began to speak to Vidyasagar. 
Meanwhile the room had become filled with people; some were standing and others were seated. 

MASTER: "Ah! Today, at last, I have come to the ocean. Up till now I have seen only canals, 
marshes, or a river at the most. But today I am face to face with the sagar, the ocean. "(All laugh.) 

VIDYASAGAR (smiling): "Then please take home some salt water." (Laughter.) 

MASTER: "Oh, no! Why salt water? You aren't the ocean of ignorance. You are the ocean of 
vidya, knowledge. You are the ocean of condensed milk." (All laugh.) 

VIDYASAGAR: "Well, you may put it that way." 

The pundit became silent. Sri Ramakrishna said: "Your activities are inspired by sattva. 
Though they are rajasic, they are influenced by sattva. Compassion springs from sattva. Though 
work for the good of others belongs to rajas, yet this rajas has sattva for its basis, and is not 
harmful. Shuka and other sages cherished compassion in their minds to give people religious 
instruction, to teach them about God. You are distributing food and learning. That is good too. If 
these activities are done in a selfless spirit they lead to God. But most people work for fame or to 
acquire merit. Their activities are not selfless. Besides, you are already a siddha." 

VIDYASAGAR: "How is that, sir?" 

MASTER (laughing): "When potatoes and other vegetables are well cooked, they become 
soft and tender. And you possess such a tender nature! You are so compassionate!" (Laughter.) 

VIDYASAGAR (laughing): "But when the paste of kalai pulse is boiled it becomes all the 


MASTER: "But you don't belong to that class. Mere pundits are like diseased fruit that 
becomes hard and will not ripen at all. Such fruit has neither the freshness of green fruit nor the 
flavour of ripe. Vultures soar very high in the sky, but their eyes are fixed on rotten carrion on the 
ground. The book-learned are reputed to be wise, but they are attached to 'woman and gold'. 
Like the vultures, they are in search of carrion. They are attached to the world of ignorance. 
Compassion, love of God, and renunciation are the glories of true knowledge." 

Vidyasagar listened to these words in silence. The others, too, gazed at the Master and 
were attentive to every word he said. 

Vidyasagar was very reticent about giving religious instruction to others. He had studied 
Hindu philosophy. Once, when M. had asked him his opinion of it, Vidyasagar had said, "I think the 
philosophers have failed to explain what was in their minds." But in his daily life he followed all the 
rituals of Hindu religion and wore the sacred thread of a brahmin. About God he had once 
declared: "It is indeed impossible to know Him. What, then, should be our duty? It seems to me 
that we should live in such a way that, if others followed our example, this very earth would be 
heaven. Everyone should try to do good to the world." 


Sri Ramakrishna's conversation now turned to the Knowledge of Brahman. 

MASTER: "Brahman is beyond vidya and avidya, knowledge and ignorance. It is beyond 
maya, the illusion of duality. 

"The world consists of the illusory duality of knowledge and ignorance. It contains 
knowledge and devotion, and also attachment to 'Woman and gold'; righteousness and 
unrighteousness; good and evil. But Brahman is unattached to these. Good and evil apply to the 
jiva, the individual soul, as do righteousness and unrighteousness; but Brahman is not at all 
affected by them. 

"One man may read the Bhagavata by the light of a lamp, and another may commit a 
forgery by that very light; but the lamp is unaffected. The sun sheds its light on the wicked as well 
as on the virtuous. 

"You may ask, 'How, then, can one explain misery and sin and unhappiness?' The answer is 
that these apply only to the jiva. Brahman is unaffected by them. There is poison in a snake; but 
though others may die if bitten by it, the snake itself is not affected by the poison. 


"What Brahman is cannot he described. All thi ngs in the world - the Vedas, the Puranas, the 
Tantras, the six systems of philosophy - have been defiled, like food that has been touched by the 
tongue, for they have been read or uttered by the tongue. Only one thing has not been defiled in 
this way, and that is Brahman. No one has ever been able to say what Brahman is." 

VIDYASAGAR (to his friends): "Oh! That is a remarkable statement. I have learnt something 
new today." 

MASTER: "A man had two sons. The father sent them to a preceptor to learn the Knowledge 
of Brahman. After a few years they returned from their preceptor's house and bowed low before 
their father. Wanting to measure the depth of their knowledge of Brahman, he first questioned 
the older of the two boys. 'My child,' he said, 'You have studied all the scriptures. Now tell me, 
what is the nature of Brahman?' The boy began to explain Brahman by reciting various texts from 
the Vedas. The father did not say anything. Then he asked the younger son the same question. 
But the boy remained silent and stood with eyes cast down. No word escaped his lips. The father 
was pleased and said to him: 'My child, you have understood a little of Brahman. What It is cannot 
be expressed in words.' 


"Men often think they have understood Brahman fully. Once an ant went to a hill of sugar. 
One grain filled its stomach. Taking another grain in its mouth it started homeward. On its way it 
thought, 'Next time I shall carry home the whole hill.' That is the way shallow minds think. They 
don't know that Brahman is beyond one's words and thought. However great a man may be, how 
much can he know of Brahman? Sukadeva and sages like him may have been big ants; but even 
they could carry at the utmost eight or ten grains of sugar! 

"As for what has been said in the Vedas and the Puranas, do you know what it is like? 
Suppose a man has seen the ocean, and somebody asks him, 'Well, what is the ocean like?' The 
first man opens his mouth as wide as he can and says: 'What a sight! What tremendous waves and 
sounds!' The description of Brahman in the sacred books is like that. It is said in the Vedas that 
Brahman is of the nature of Bliss - It is Satchidananda. 

"Shuka and other sages stood on the shore of this Ocean of Brahman and saw and touched 
the water. According to one school of thought they never plunged into it. Those who do, cannot 
come back to the world again. 


"In samadhi one attains the Knowledge of Brahman - one realizes Brahman. In that state 
reasoning stops altogether, and man becomes mute. He has no power to describe the nature of 

"Once a salt doll went to measure the depth of the ocean. (All laugh.) It wanted to tell 
others how deep the water was. But this it could never do, for no sooner did it get into the water 
than it melted. Now who was there to report the ocean's depth?" 

A DEVOTEE: "Suppose a man has obtained the Knowledge of Brahman in samadhi. Doesn't 
he speak any more?" 

MASTER: "Sankaracharya retained the 'ego of Knowledge' in order to teach others. After the 
vision of Brahman a man becomes silent. He reasons about It as long as he has not realized It. If 
you heat butter in a pan on the stove, it makes a sizzling sound as long as the water it contains has 
not dried up. But when no trace of water is left the clarified butter makes no sound. If you put an 
uncooked cake of flour in that butter it sizzles again. But after the cake is cooked all sound stops. 
Just so, a man established in samadhi comes down to the relative plane of consciousness in order 
to teach others, and then he talks about God. 

"The bee buzzes as long as it is not sitting on a flower. It becomes silent when it begins to 
sip the honey. But sometimes, intoxicated with the honey, it buzzes again. 

"An empty pitcher makes a gurgling sound when it is dipped in water. When it fills up it 
becomes silent. (All laugh.) But if the water is poured from it into another pitcher, then you will 
hear the sound again. (Laughter.) 


"The rishis of old attained the Knowledge of Brahman. One cannot have this so long as 
there is the slightest trace of worldliness. How hard the rishis laboured! Early in the morning they 
would go away from the hermitage, and would spend the whole day in solitude, meditating on 
Brahman. At night they would return to the hermitage and eat a little fruit or roots. They kept their 
minds aloof from the objects of sight, hearing, touch, and other things of a worldly nature. Only 
thus did they realize Brahman as their own inner consciousness. 

"But in the Kaliyuga, man, being totally dependent on food for life, cannot altogether shake 
off the idea that he is the body. In this state of mind it is not proper for him to say, 'I am He.' 
When a man does all sorts of worldly things, he should not say, 'I am Brahman.' Those who cannot 
give up attachment to worldly things, and who find no means to shake off the feeling of T, should 
rather cherish the idea 'I am God's servant; I am His devotee.' One can also realize God by 
following the path of devotion. 


"The jnani gives up his identification with worldly things, discriminating, 'Not this, not this'. 
Only then can he realize Brahman. It is like reaching the roof of a house by leaving the steps 
behind, one by one. But the vijnani, who is more intimately acquainted with Brahman, realizes 
something more. He realizes that the steps are made of the same materials as the roof: bricks, 
lime, and brick-dust. That which is realized intuitively as Brahman, through the eliminating process 
of 'Not this, not this', is then found to have become the universe and all its living beings. The 
vijnani sees that the Reality which is nirguna, without attributes, is also saguna, with attributes. 

"A man cannot live on the roof a long time. He comes down again. Those who realize 
Brahman in samadhi come down also and find that it is Brahman that has become the universe 
and its living beings. In the musical scale there are the notes sa, re ga, ma, pa, dha, and ni; but one 

cannot keep one's voice on 'ni' a long time. The ego does not vanish altogether. The man coming 
down from samadhi perceives that it is Brahman that has become the ego, the universe, and all 
living beings. This is known as vijnana. 


"The path of knowledge leads to Truth, as does the path that combines knowledge and love. 
The path of love, too, leads to this goal. The way of love is as true as the way of knowledge. All 
paths ultimately lead to the same Truth. But as long as God keeps the feeling of ego in us, it is 
easier to follow the path of love. 

"The vijnani sees that Brahman is immovable and actionless, like Mount Sumeru. This 
universe consists of the three gunas - sattva, rajas, and tamas. They are in Brahman. But Brahman 
is unattached. 


"The vijnani further sees that what is Brahman is the Bhagavan, the Personal God. He who is 
beyond the three gunas is the Bhagavan, with His six supernatural powers. Living beings, the 
universe, mind, intelligence, love, renunciation, knowledge - all these are the manifestations of His 
power. (With a laugh) If an aristocrat has neither house nor property, or if he has been forced to 
sell them, one doesn't call him an aristocrat any more. (All laugh.) God is endowed with the six 
supernatural powers. If He were not who would obey Him? (All laugh.) 


"Just see how picturesque this universe is! How many things there are! The sun, moon, and 
stars; and how many varieties of living beings! - big and small, good and bad, strong and weak - 
some endowed with more power some with less." 

VIDYASAGAR: "Has He endowed some with more power and others with less?" 

MASTER: "As the All-pervading Spirit He exists in all beings, even in the ant. But the 
manifestations of His Power are different in different beings; otherwise, how can one person put 
ten to flight, while another can't face even one? And why do all people respect you? Have you 
grown a pair horns? (Laughter.) You have more compassion and learning. Therefore people honour 
you and come to pay you their respects. Don't you agree with me?" 

Vidyasagar smiled. 

The Master continued: "There is nothing in mere scholarship. The object of study is to find 
means of knowing God and realizing Him. A holy man had a book. When asked what it contained, 
he opened it and showed that on all the pages were written the words 'Om Rama', and nothing 

"What is the significance of the Gita? It is what you find by repeating the word ten times. It 
is then reversed into 'tagi', which means a person who has renounced everything for God. And the 

lesson of the Gita is: '0 man, renounce everything and seek God alone.' Whether a man is a monk 
or a householder, he has to shake off all attachment from his mind. 

"Chaitanyadeva set out on a pilgrimage to southern India. One day he saw a man reading 
the Gita. Another man, seated at a distance, was listening and weeping. His eyes were swimming 
in tears. Chaitanyadeva asked him, 'Do you understand all this?' The man said, 'No, revered sir, I 
don't understand a word of the text.' 'Then why are you crying?' asked Chaitanya. The devotee 
said: 'I see Arjuna's chariot before me. I see Lord Krishna and Arjuna seated in front of it, talking. 
I see this and I weep.' 

"Why does a vijnani keep an attitude of love toward God? The answer is that 'I- 
consciousness' persists. It disappears in the state of samadhi, no doubt, but it comes back. In the 
case of ordinary people the T never disappears. You may cut down the Aswattha tree, but the next 
day sprouts shoot up. (All laugh.) 


"Even after the attainment of Knowledge this 'l-consciousness' comes up, nobody knows 
from where. You dream of a tiger. Then you awake; but your heart keeps on palpitating! All our 
suffering is due to this T. The cow cries, 'Hamba!', which means T. That is why it suffers so much. 
It is yoked to the plough and made to work in rain and sun. Then it may be killed by the butcher. 
From its hide shoes are made, and also drums, which are mercilessly, beaten. (Laughter.) Still it 
does not escape suffering. At last strings are made out of its entrails for the bows used in carding 
cotton. Then it no longer says, 'Hamba! Hamba!', 'I! I!' but 'Tuhu! Tuhu!', 'Thou! Thou!'. Only then 
are its troubles over. Lord, I am the servant; Thou art the Master. I am the child; Thou art the 

"Once Rama asked Hanuman, 'How do you look on Me?' And Hanuman replied: '0 Rama, as 
long as I have the feeling of "I", I see that Thou art the whole and I am a part; Thou art the Master 
and I am Thy servant. But when, Rama, I have the knowledge of Truth, then I realize that Thou 
art I and I am Thou.' 

"The relationship of master and servant is the proper one. Since this T must remain, let the 
rascal be God's servant. 


"T and 'mine' - these constitute ignorance. 'My house', 'my wealth', 'my learning', 'my 
possessions' - the attitude that prompts one to say such things comes of ignorance. On the 
contrary, the attitude born of Knowledge is: '0 God, Thou art the Master, and all these things 
belong to Thee. House, family, children, attendants, friends, are Thine.' 

"One should constantly remember death. Nothing will survive death. We are born into this 
world to perform certain duties, like the people who come from the countryside to Calcutta on 
business. If a visitor goes to a rich man's garden, the superintendent says to him, 'This is our 
garden', 'This is our lake', and so forth. But if the Superintendent is dismissed for some misdeed, 

he can't carry away even his mango-wood chest. He sends it secretly by the gate-keeper. 

"God laughs on two occasions. He laughs when the physician says to the patient's mother, 
'Don't be afraid, mother; I shall certainly cure your boy.' God laughs, saying to Himself, 'I am going 
to take his life, and this man says he will save it!' The physician thinks he is the master, forgetting 
that God is the Master. God laughs again when two brothers divide their land with a string, saying 
to each other, 'This side is mine and that side is your'. He laughs and says to Himself, 'The whole 
universe belongs to Me, but they say they own this portion or that portion.' 

"Can one know God through reasoning? Be His servant, surrender yourself to Him, and then 
pray to Him. 

(To Vidyasagar, with a smile) "Well, what is your attitude?" 
VIDYASAGAR (smiling): "Some day I shall confide it to you. "(All laugh) 
MASTER (laughing): "God cannot be realized through mere scholarly reasoning." 
Intoxicated with divine love, the Master sang: 

Who is there that can understand what Mother Kali is? Even the six darsanas are powerless 
to reveal Her. It is She, the scriptures say, that is the Inner Self of the yogi, who in Self discovers all 
his joy; She that, of Her own sweet will, inhabits every living thing. 

The macrocosm and microcosm rest in the Mother's womb; Now do you see how vast it is? 
In the Muladhara The yogi meditates on Her, and in the Sahasrara: Who but Siva has beheld Her 
as She really is? Within the lotus wilderness She sports beside Her Mate, the Swan. 

When man aspires to understand Her, Ramprasad must smile; To think of knowing Her, he 
says, is quite as laughable As to imagine one can swim across the boundless sea. But while my 
mind has understood, alas! my heart has not; Though but a dwarf, it still would strive to make a 
captive of the moon. 

Continuing, the Master said: "Did you notice? 

The macrocosm and microcosm rest in the Mother's womb; Now do you see how vast it is? 

Again, the poet says: 

Even the six darsanas are powerless to reveal Her. 
She cannot be realized by means of mere scholarship. 


"One must have faith and love. Let me tell you how powerful faith is. A man was about to 
cross the sea from Ceylon to India. Bibhishana said to him: 'Tie this thing in a corner of your 
wearing-cloth, and you will cross the sea safely. You will be able to walk on the water. But be sure 
not to examine it, or you will sink.' The man was walking easily on the water of the sea - such is the 

strength of faith - when, having gone part of the way, he thought, 'What is this wonderful thing 
Bibhishana has given me, that I can walk even on the water?' He untied the knot and found only a 
leaf with the name of Rama written on it. 'Oh, just this!' he thought, and instantly he sank. 

"There is a popular saying that Hanuman jumped over the sea through his faith in Rama's 
name, but Rama himself had to build a bridge. 

"If a man has faith in God, then He need not be afraid though he may have committed sin - 
nay, the vilest sin." 

Then Sri Ramakrishna sang a song glorifying the Power of faith: 

If only I can pass away repeating Durga's name, How canst Thou then, Blessed One, 

Withhold from me deliverance, Wretched though I may be? 

The Master continued: "Faith and devotion. One realizes God easily through devotion. He is 
grasped through ecstasy of love." 

With these words the Master sang again: 

How are you trying, my mind, to know the nature of God? You are groping like a madman 
locked in a dark room. He is grasped through ecstatic love; how can you fathom Him without it? 
Only through affirmation, never negation, can you know Him; Neither through Veda nor through 
Tantra nor the six darsanas. 

It is in love's elixir only that He delights, mind; He dwells in the body's inmost depths, in 
Everlasting Joy. And, for that love, the mighty yogis practise yoga from age to age; When love 
awakes, the Lord, like a magnet, draws to Him the soul. 

He it is, says Ramprasad, that I approach as Mother; But must I give away the secret, here in 
the marketplace? From the hints I have given, mind, guess what that Being is! 

While singing, the Master went into samadhi. He was seated on the bench, facing west, the 
palms of his hands joined together, his body erect and motionless. Everyone watched him 
expectantly. Vidyasagar, too, was speechless and could not take his eyes from the Master. 


After a time Sri Ramakrishna showed signs of regaining the normal state. He drew a deep 
breath and said with a smile: "The means of realizing God are ecstasy of love and devotion - that is, 
one must love God. He who is Brahman is addressed as the Mother. 

He it is, says Ramprasad, that I approach as Mother; But must I give away the secret, here in 
the market-place? From the hints I have given, mind, guess what that Being is! 

"Ramprasad asks the mind only to guess the nature of God. He wishes it to understand that 
what is called Brahman in the Vedas is addressed by Him as the Mother. He who is attributeless 
also has attributes. He who is Brahman is also Sakti. When thought of as inactive, He is called 

Brahman, and when thought of as the Creator, Preserver, and Destroyer, He is called the 
Primordial Energy, Kali. 

"Brahman and Sakti are identical, like fire and its power to bum. When we talk of fire we 
automatically mean also its power to burn. Again, the fire's power to burn implies the fire itself. 
If you accept the one you must accept the other. 

"Brahman alone is addressed as the Mother. This is because a mother is an object of great 
love. One is able to realize God just through love. Ecstasy of feeling, devotion, love, and faith - 
these are the means. Listen to a song: 

As is a man's meditation, so is his feeling of love; As is a man's feeling of love, so is his gain; 
And faith is the root of all. If in the Nectar Lake of Mother Kali's feet My mind remains immersed, 
Of little use are worship, oblations, or sacrifice. 


"What is needed is absorption in God - loving Him intensely. The 'Nectar Lake' is the Lake of 
Immortality. A man sinking in It does not die, but becomes immortal. Some people believe that by 
thinking of God too much the mind becomes deranged; but that is not true. God is the Lake of 
Nectar, the Ocean of Immortality. He is called the 'Immortal' in the Vedas. Sinking in It, one does 
not die, but verily transcends death. Of little use are worship, oblations, or sacrifice. 

If a man comes to love God, he need not trouble himself much about these activities. One 
needs a fan only as long as there is no breeze. The fan may be laid aside if the southern breeze 
blows. Then what need is there of a fan? 

(To Vidyasagar) "The activities that you are engaged in are good. It is very good if you can 
perform them in a selfless spirit, renouncing egotism, giving up the idea that you are the doer. 
Through such action one develops love and devotion to God, and ultimately realizes Him. 

"The more you come to love God, the less you will be inclined to perform action. When the 
daughter-in-law is with child, her mother-in-law gives her less work to do. As time goes by she is 
given less and less work. When the time of delivery nears, she is not allowed to do any work at 
all, lest it should hurt the child or cause difficulty at the time of birth. 

"By these philanthropic activities you are really doing good to yourself. If you can do them 
disinterestedly, your mind will become pure and you will develop love of God. As soon as you have 
that love you will realize Him. 

"Man cannot really help the world. God alone does that - He who has created the sun and 
the moon, who has put love for their children in parents' hearts, endowed noble souls with 
compassion, and holy men and devotees with divine love. The man who works for others, without 
any selfish motive, really does good to himself. 

"There is gold buried in your heart, but you are not yet aware of it. It is covered with a thin 
layer of clay. Once you are aware of it, all these activities of yours will lessen. After the birth of her 

child, the daughter-in-law in the family busies herself with it alone. Everything she does is only for 
the child. Her mother-in-law doesn't let her do any household duties. 


"Go forward. A wood-cutter once entered a forest to gather wood. A brahmachari said to 
him, 'Go forward.' He obeyed the injunction and discovered some sandal-wood trees. After a few 
days he reflected, 'The holy man asked me to go forward. He didn't tell me to stop here.' So he 
went forward and found a silver-mine. After a few days he went still farther and discovered a 
gold-mine, and next, mines of diamonds and precious stones. With these he became immensely 

"Through selfless work, love of God grows in the heart. Then, through His grace one realizes 
Him in course of time. God can be seen. One can talk to him as I am talking to you." 

In silent wonder they all sat listening to the Master's words. It seemed to them that the 
Goddess of Wisdom Herself, seated on Sri Ramakrishna's tongue was addressing these words not 
merely to Vidyasagar, but to all humanity for its good. 

It was nearly nine o'clock in the evening. The Master was about to leave. 

Master (to Vidyasagar, with a smile): "The words I have spoken are really superfluous. You 
know all this; you simply aren't conscious of it. There are countless gems in the coffers of Varuna. 
But he himself isn't aware of them." 

VIDYASAGAR (with a smile): "You may say as you like." 

MASTER (smiling): "Oh yes. There are many wealthy people who don't know the names of 
all their servants, and are even unaware of many of the precious things in their houses. "(All laugh.) 

Everybody was delighted with the Master's conversation. Again addressing Vidyasagar, he 
said with a smile: "Please visit the temple garden some time - 1 mean the garden of Rasmani. It's a 
charming place." 

VIDYASAGAR: "Oh, of course I shall go. You have so kindly come here to see me, and shall I 
not return your visit?" 

MASTER: "Visit me? Oh, never think of such a thing!" 

VIDYASAGAR: "Why, sir? Why do you say that? May I ask you to explain?" 

MASTER (smiling): "You see, we are like small fishing-boats. (All smile.) We can play in small 
canals and shallow waters and also in big rivers. But you are a ship. You may run aground on the 
way!" (All laugh.) 

Vidyasagar remained silent. Sri Ramakrishna said with a laugh, "But even a ship can go there 
at this season." 

VIDYASAGR (smiling): "Yes, this is the monsoon season." (All laugh.) 

M. said to himself: "This is indeed the monsoon season of newly awakened love. At such 
times one doesn't care for prestige or formalities." 

Sri Ramakrishna then took leave of Vidyasagar, who with his friends escorted the Master to 
the main gate, leading the way with a lighted candle in his hand. Before leaving the room, the 
Master prayed for the family's welfare, going into an ecstatic mood as he did so. 

As soon as the Master and the devotees reached the gate, they saw an unexpected sight 
and stood still. In front of them was a bearded gentleman of fair complexion, aged about thirty-six. 
He wore his clothes like a Bengali, but on his head was a white turban tied after the fashion of the 
Sikhs. No sooner did he see the Master than he fell prostrate before him, turban and all. 

When he stood up the Master said: "Who is this? Balaram? Why so late in the evening?" 

BALARAM: "I have been waiting here a long time, sir." 

MASTER: "Why didn't you come in?" 

BALARAM: "All were listening to you. I didn't like to disturb you." The Master got into the 
carriage with his companions. 

VIDYASAGAR (to M., softly): "Shall I pay the carriage hire?" 

M: "Oh, don't bother, please. It is taken care of." 

Vidyasagar and his friends bowed to Sri Ramakrishna, and the carriage started for 
Dakshineswar. But the little group, with the venerable Vidyasagar at their head holding the lighted 
candle, stood at the gate and gazed after the Master until he was out of sight. 


August 13, 1882 

THE MASTER WAS CONVERSING with Kedar and some other devotees in his room in the 
temple garden. Kedar was a government official and had spent several years at Dacca, in East 
Bengal, where he had become a friend of Vijay Goswami. The two would spend a great part of 
their time together, talking about Sri Ramakrishna and his spiritual experiences. Kedar had once 
been a member of the Brahmo Samaj. He followed the path of bhakti. Spiritual talk always brought 
tears to his eyes. 

It was five o'clock in the afternoon. Kedar was very happy that day, having arranged a 
religious festival for Sri Ramakrishna. A singer had been hired by Ram, and the whole day passed in 


The Master explained to the devotees the secret of communion with God. MASTER: "With 
the realization of Satchidananda one goes into samadhi. Then duties drop away. Suppose I have 
been talking about the ostad and he arrives. What need is there of talking about him then? How 
long does the bee buzz around? So long as it isn't sitting on a flower. But it will not do for the 

sadhaka to renounce duties. He should perform his duties, such as worship, japa, meditation, 
prayer, and pilgrimage. 

"If you see someone engaged in reasoning even after he has realized God, you may liken 
him to a bee, which also buzzes a little even while sipping honey from a flower." 

The Master was highly pleased with the ostad's music. He said to the musician, "There is a 
special manifestation of God's power in a man who has any outstanding gift, such as proficiency in 

MUSICIAN: "Sir, what is the way to realize God?" 

MASTER: "Bhakti is the one essential thing. To be sure, God exists in all beings. Who, then, is 
a devotee? He whose mind dwells on God. But this is not possible as long as one has egotism and 
vanity. The water of God's grace cannot collect on the high mound of egotism. It runs down. I am a 
mere machine. 


(To Kedar and the other devotees) "God can be realized through all paths. All religions are 
true. The important thing is to reach the roof. You can reach it by stone stairs or by wooden stairs 
or by bamboo steps or by a rope. You can also climb up by a bamboo pole. 


"You may say that there are many errors and superstitions in another religion. I should 
reply: Suppose there are. Every religion has errors. Everyone thinks that his watch alone gives the 
correct time. It is enough to have yearning for God. It is enough to love Him and feel attracted to 
Him: Don't you know that God is the Inner Guide? He sees the longing of our heart and the 
yearning of our soul. Suppose a man has several sons. The older boys address him distinctly as 
'Baba' or 'Papa', but the babies can at best call him 'Ba' or 'Pa'. Now, will the father be angry with 
those who address him in this indistinct way? The father knows that they too are calling him, only 
they cannot pronounce his name well. All children are the same to the father. Likewise, the 
devotees call on God alone, though by different names. They call on one Person only. God is one, 
but His names are many." 

Thursday, August 24, 1882. 

Sri Ramakrishna was talking to Hazra on the long northeast verandah of his room, when M. 
arrived. He saluted the Master reverently. 


MASTER: "I should like to visit Iswar Chandra Vidyasagar a few times more. The painter first 
draws the general outlines and then puts in the details and colours at his leisure. The moulder first 
makes the image out of clay, then plasters it, then gives it a coat of whitewash, and last of all 
paints it with a brush. All these steps must be taken successively. Vidyasagar is fully ready, but his 
inner stuff is covered with a thin layer. He is now engaged in doing good works; but he doesn't 

know what is within himself. Gold is hidden within him. God dwells within us. If one knows that, 
one feels like giving up all activities and praying to God with a yearning soul." 

So the Master talked with M. - now standing, now pacing up and down the long verandah. 

MASTER: "A little spiritual discipline is necessary in order to know what lies within." 

M: "Is it necessary to practise discipline all through life?" 

MASTER: "No. But one must be up and doing in the beginning. After that one need not work 
hard. The helmsman stands up and clutches the rudder firmly as long as the boat is passing 
through waves, storms, high wind, or around the curves of a river; but he relaxes after steering 
through them. As soon as the boat passes the curves and the helmsman feels a favourable wind, 
he sits comfortably and just touches the rudder. Next he prepares to unfurl the sail and gets ready 
for a smoke. Likewise, the aspirant enjoys peace and calm after passing the waves and storms of 
'woman and gold'. 


"Some are born with the characteristics of the yogi; but they too should be careful. It is 
'woman and gold' alone that is the obstacle; it makes them deviate from the path of yoga and 
drags them into worldliness. Perhaps they have some desire for enjoyment. 

After fulfilling their desire, they again direct their minds to God and thus recover their 
former state of mind, fit for the practise of yoga. 

"Have you ever seen the spring trap for fish, called the 'satka-kal'?" 

M: "No, sir, I haven't seen it." 

MASTER: "They use it in our part of the country.One end of a bamboo pole is fastened in 
the ground, and the other is bent over with a catch. From this end a line with a hook hangs over 
the water, with bait tied to the hook. When the fish swallows the bait, suddenly the bamboo 
jumps up and regains its upright position. 

"Again, take a pair of scales for example. If a weight is placed on one side, the lower needle 
moves away from the upper one. The lower needle is the mind, and the upper one, God. The 
meeting of the two is yoga. 

"Unless the mind becomes steady there cannot be yoga. It is the wind of worldliness that 
always disturbs the mind, which may be likened to a candle flame. If that flame doesn't move at 
all, then one is said to have attained yoga. 

'"Woman and gold' alone is the obstacle to yoga. Always analyse what you see. What is 
there in the body of a woman? Only such things as blood, flesh, fat, entrails, and the like. Why 
should one love such a body? 

"Sometimes I used to assume a rajasic mood in order to practise renunciation. Once I had 
the desire to put on a gold-embroidered robe, wear a ring on my finger, and smoke a 

hubble-bubble with a long pipe. Mathur Babu procured all these things for me. I wore the 
gold-embroidered robe and said to myself after a while, 'Mind! This is what is called a 
gold-embroidered robe.' Then I took it off and threw it away. I couldn't stand the robe any more. 
Again I said to myself, 'Mind! This is called a shawl, and this a ring, and this, smoking a 
hubble-bubble with a long pipe.' I threw those things away once for all, and the desire to enjoy 
them never arose in my mind again." 

It was almost dusk. The Master and M. stood talking alone near the door on the southeast 

MASTER (to M.): "The mind of the yogi is always fixed on God, always absorbed in the Self. 
You can recognize such a man by merely looking at him. His eyes are wide open, with an aimless 
look, like the eyes of the mother bird hatching her eggs. Her entire mind is fixed on the eggs, and 
there is a vacant look in her eyes. Can you show me such a picture?" 

M: "I shall try to get one." 

As evening came on, the temples were lighted up. Sri Ramakrishna was seated on his small 
couch, meditating on the Divine Mother. Then he chanted the names of God. Incense was burnt in 
the room, where an oil lamp had been lighted. Sounds of conch shells and gongs came floating on 
the air as the evening worship began in the temple of Kali. The light of the moon flooded all the 
quarters. The Master again spoke to M. 


MASTER: "Perform your duties in an unselfish spirit. The work that Vidyasagar is engaged in 
is very good. Always try to perform your duties without desiring any result." 

M: "Yes, sir. But may I know if one can realize God while performing one's duties? Can 
'Rama' and 'desire' coexist? The other day I read in a Hindi couplet: 'Where Rama is, there desire 
cannot be; where desire is, there Rama cannot be.' " 

MASTER: "All, without exception, perform work. Even to chant the name and glories of 


M: "Sir, may I make an effort to earn more money?" MASTER: "It is permissible to do so to 
maintain a religious family. You may try to increase your income, but in an honest way. The goal of 
life is not the earning of money, but the service of God. Money is not harmful if it is devoted to the 
service of God." 

M: "How long should a man feel obliged to do his duty toward his wife and children?" 

MASTER: "As long as they feel pinched for food and clothing. But one need not take the 
responsibility of a son when he is able to support himself. When the young fledgling learns to pick 
its own food, its mother pecks it if it comes to her for food." 

M: "How long must one do one's duty?" 

MASTER: "The blossom drops off when the fruit appears. One doesn't have to do one's duty 
after the attainment of God, nor does one feel like doing it then. 

"If a drunkard takes too much liquor he cannot retain consciousness. If he takes only two 
or three glasses, he can go on with his work. As you advance nearer and nearer to God, He will 
reduce your activities little by little. Have no fear. 

"Finish the few duties you have at hand, and then you will have peace. When the mistress 
of the house goes to bathe after finishing her cooking and other household duties, she won't come 
back, however you may shout after her." 


M: "Sir, what is the meaning of the realization of God? What do you mean by God-vision? 
How does one attain it?" 

MASTER: "According to the Vaishnavas the aspirants and the seers of God may be divided 
into different groups. These are the pravartaka, the sadhaka, the siddha, and 

the siddha of the siddha. He who has just set foot on the path may be called a pravartaka. 
He may be called a sadhaka who has for some time been practising spiritual disciplines, such as 
worship, japa, meditation, and the chanting of God's name and glories. He may be called a siddha 
who has known from his inner experience that God exists. An analogy is given in the Vedanta to 
explain this. The master of the house is asleep in a dark room. Someone is groping in the darkness 
to find him. He touches the couch and says, 'No, it is not he.' He touches the window and says, 'No, 
it is not he.' He touches the door and says, 'No, it is not he.' This is known in the Vedanta as the 
process of 'Neti, neti', 'Not this, not this'. At last his hand touches the master's body and he 
exclaims, 'Here he is!' In other words, he is now conscious of the 'existence' of the master. He has 
found him, but he doesn't yet know him intimately. 

"There is another type, known as the siddha of the siddha, the 'supremely perfect'. It is 
quite a different thing when one talks to the master intimately, when one knows God very 
intimately through love and devotion. A siddha has undoubtedly attained God, but the 
'supremely perfect' has known God very intimately. 


"But in order to realize God, one must assume one of these attitudes: Santa, Dasya, sakhya, 
Vatsalya, or Madhur. 

"Santa, the serene attitude. The rishis of olden times had this attitude toward God. They did 
not desire any worldly enjoyment. It is like the single-minded devotion of a wife to her husband. 
She knows that her husband is the embodiment of beauty and love, a veritable Madan. 

"Dasya, the attitude of a servant toward his master. Hanuman had this attitude toward 
Rama. He felt the strength of a lion when he worked for Rama. A wife feels this mood also. She 
serves her husband with all her heart and soul. A mother also has a little of this attitude, as Yasoda 
had toward Krishna. 

"Sakhya, the attitude of friendship. Friends say to one another, 'Come here and sit near me.' 
Sridama and other friends sometimes fed Krishna with fruit, part of which they had already eaten, 
and sometimes climbed on His shoulders. 

"Vatsalya, the attitude of a mother toward her child. This was Yasoda's attitude toward 
Krishna. The wife, too, has a little of this. She feeds her husband with her very lifeblood, as it were. 
The mother feels happy only when the child has eaten to his heart's content. Yasoda would roam 
about with butter in her hand, in order to feed Krishna. 

"Madhur, the attitude of a woman toward her paramour. Radha had this attitude toward 
Krishna. The wife also feels it for her husband. This attitude includes all the other four." 

M: "When one sees God does one see Him with these eyes?" 

MASTER: "God cannot be seen with these physical eyes. In the course of spiritual discipline 
one gets a 'love body', endowed with 'love eyes', 'love ears', and so on. One sees God with those 
'love eyes'. One hears the voice of God with those 'love ears'. One even gets a sexual organ made 
of love." 

At these words M. burst out laughing. The Master continued, unannoyed, "With this 'love 
body' the soul communes with God." 

M. again became serious. 


MASTER: "But this is not possible without intense love of God. One sees nothing but God 
everywhere when one loves Him with great intensity. It is like a person with jaundice, who sees 
everything yellow. Then one feels, 'lam verily He'. 

"A drunkard, deeply intoxicated, says, 'Verily I am Kali!' The gopis, intoxicated with love, 
exclaimed, 'Verily I am Krishna!' 

"One who thinks of God, day and night, beholds Him everywhere. It is like a man's seeing 
flames on all sides after he has gazed fixedly at one flame for some time." 

"But that isn't the real flame", flashed through M.'s mind. 

Sri Ramakrishna, who could read a man's inmost thought, said: "One doesn't lose 
consciousness by thinking of Him who is all Spirit, all Consciousness. Shivanath once remarked that 
too much thinking about God confounds the brain. Thereupon I said to him, 'How can one become 
unconscious by thinking of Consciousness?' " 

M: "Yes, sir, I realize that. It isn't like thinking of an unreal object. How can a man lose his 
intelligence if he always fixes his mind on Him whose very nature is eternal Intelligence?" 

MASTER (with pleasure): "It is through God's grace that you understand that. The doubts of 
the mind will not disappear without His grace. Doubts do not disappear without Self-realization. 

"But one need not fear anything if one has received the grace of God. It is rather easy for a 
child to stumble if he holds his father's hand; but there can be no such fear if the father holds the 
child's hand. A man does not have to suffer any more if God, in His grace, removes his doubts and 
reveals Himself to him. But this grace descends upon him only after he has prayed to God with 
intense yearning of heart and practised spiritual discipline. The mother feels compassion for her 
child when she sees him running about breathlessly. She has been hiding herself; now she appears 
before the child." 

"But why should God make us run about?" thought M. 

Immediately Sri Ramakrishna said: "It is His will that we should run about a little. Then it is 
great fun. God has created the world in play, as it were. This is called Mahamaya, the Great 
Illusion. Therefore one must take refuge in the Divine Mother, the Cosmic Power Itself. It is She 
who has bound us with the shackles of illusion. The realization of God is possible only when those 
shackles are severed." 


The Master continued: "One must propitiate the Divine Mother, the Primal Energy, in order 
to obtain God's grace. God Himself is Mahamaya, who deludes the world with Her illusion and 
conjures up the magic of creation, preservation, and destruction. She has spread this veil of 
ignorance before our eyes. We can go into the inner chamber only when She lets us pass through 
the door. Living outside, we see only outer objects, but not that Eternal Being, 
Existence-Knowledge-Bliss Absolute. Therefore it is stated in the purna that deities like Brahma 
praised Mahamaya for the destruction of the demons Madhu and Kaitabha. 

"Sakti alone is the root of the universe. That Primal Energy has two aspects: vidya and 
avidya. Avidya deludes. Avidya conjures up 'woman and gold', which casts the spell. Vidya begets 
devotion, kindness, wisdom, and love, which lead one to God. This avidya must be propitiated, and 
that is the purpose of the rites of Sakti worship. 

"The devotee assumes various attitudes toward Sakti in order to propitiate Her: the attitude 
of a handmaid, a 'hero', or a child. A hero's attitude is to please Her even as a man pleases a 
woman through intercourse. 

"The worship of Sakti is extremely difficult. It is no joke. I passed two years as the handmaid 
and companion of the Divine Mother. But my natural attitude has always been that of a child 
toward its mother. I regard the breasts of any woman as those of my own mother. 


"Women are, all of them, the veritable images of Sakti. In northwest India the bride holds a 
knife in her hand at the time of marriage; in Bengal, a nut-cutter. The meaning is that the 
bridegroom, with the help of the bride, who is the embodiment of the Divine Power, will sever the 
bondage of illusion. This is the 'heroic' attitude. I never worshipped the Divine Mother that way. 
My attitude toward Her is that of a child toward its mother. 

"The bride is the very embodiment of Sakti. Haven't you noticed, at the marriage ceremony, 
how the groom sits behind like an idiot? But the bride - she is so bold! 


"After attaining God one forgets His external splendour; the glories of His creation. One 
doesn't think of God's glories after one has seen Him. The devotee, once immersed in God's Bliss, 
doesn't calculate any more about outer things. When I see Narendra, I don't need to ask him: 
'What's your name? Where do you live?' Where is the time for such questions? Once a man asked 
Hanuman which day of the fortnight it was. 'Brother,' said Hanuman, 'I don't know anything of the 
day of the week, or the fortnight, or the position of the stars. I think of Rama alone.' " 

October 16, 1882 

It was Monday, a few days before the Durga Puja, the festival of the Divine Mother. Sri 
Ramakrishna was in a very happy state of mind, for Narendra was with him. Narendra had brought 
two or three young members of the Brahmo Samaj to the temple garden. Besides these, Rakhal, 
Ramlal, Hazra, and M. were with the Master. 

Narendra had his midday meal with Sri Ramakrishna. Afterwards a temporary bed was 
made on the floor of the Master's room so that the disciples might rest awhile. A mat was spread, 
over which was placed a quilt covered with a white sheet. A few cushions and pillows completed 
the simple bed. Like a child, the Master sat near Narendranath on the bed. He talked with the 
devotees in great delight. With a radiant smile lighting his face, and his eyes fixed on Narendra, he 
was giving them various spiritual teachings, interspersing these with incidents from his own life. 

MASTER: "After I had experienced samadhi, my mind craved intensely to hear only about 
God. I would always search for places where they were reciting or explaining the sacred books, 
such as the Bhagavata, the Mahabharata, and the Adhyatma Ramayana. I used to go to 
Krishnakishore to hear him read the Adhyatma Ramayana. 


"What tremendous faith Krishnakishore had! Once, while at Vrindavan, he felt thirsty and 
went to a well. Near it he saw a man standing. On being asked to draw a little water for him, the 
man said: 'I belong to a low caste, sir. You are a brahmin. How can I draw water for you?' 
Krishnakishore said: 'Take the name of Siva. By repeating His holy name you will make yourself 
pure.' The low-caste man did as he was told, and Krishnakishore, orthodox brahmin that he was, 
drank that water. What tremendous faith! 

"Once a holy man came to the bank of the Ganges and lived near the bathing-ghat at 
Ariadaha, not far from Dakshineswar. We thought of paying him a visit. I said to Haladhari: 
'Krishnakishore and I are going to see a holy man. Will you come with us?' Haladhari replied, 'What 
is the use of seeing a mere human body, which is no better than a cage of clay?' Haladhari was a 
student of the Gita and Vedanta philosophy, and therefore referred to the holy man as a mere 
'cage of clay'. I repeated this to Krishnakishore. With great anger he said: 'How impudent of 
Haladhari to make such a remark! How can he ridicule as a "cage of clay" the body of a man who 

constantly thinks of God, who meditates on Rama, and has renounced all for the sake of the Lord? 
Doesn't he know that such a man is the embodiment of Spirit?' He was so upset by Haladhari's 
remarks that he would turn his face away from him whenever he met him in the temple garden, 
and stopped speaking to him. 

"Once Krishnakishore asked me, 'Why have you cast off the sacred thread?' In those days of 
God-vision I felt as if I were passing through the great storm of Aswin, and everything had blown 
away from me. No trace of my old self was left. I lost all consciousness of the world. I could hardly 
keep my cloth on my body, not to speak of the sacred thread! I said to Krishnakishore, 'Ah, you will 
understand if you ever happen to be as intoxicated with God as I was.' 

"And it actually came to pass. He too passed through a God-intoxicated state, when he 
would repeat only the word 'Om' and shut himself up alone in his room. His relatives thought he 
was actually mad, and called in a physician. Ram Kaviraj of Natagore came to see him. 
Krishnakishore said to the physician, 'Cure me, sir, of my malady, if you please, but not of my Om.' 
(All laugh.) 

"One day I went to see him and found him in a pensive mood. When I asked him about it, 
he said: 'The tax-collector was here. He threatened to dispose of my brass pots, my cups, and my 
few utensils, if I didn't pay the tax; so I am worried.' I said: 'But why should you worry about it? Let 
him take away your pots and pans. Let him arrest your body even. How will that affect you? For 
your nature is that of Kha!' (Narendra and the others laugh.) He used to say to me that he was the 
Spirit, all-pervading as the sky. He had got that idea from the Adhyatma Ramayana. I used to tease 
him now and then, addressing him as 'Kha'. Therefore I said to him that day, with a smile: 'You are 
Kha. Taxes cannot move you!' 


"In that state of God-intoxication I used to speak out my mind to all. I was no respecter of 
persons. Even to men of position I was not afraid to speak the truth. 

"One day Jatindra came to the garden of Jadu Mallick. I was there too. I asked him: 'What is 
the duty of man? Isn't it our duty to think of God?' Jatindra replied: 'We are worldly people. How is 
it possible for us to achieve liberation? Even King Yudhisthira had to have a vision of hell.' This 
made me very angry. I said to him: 'What sort of man are you? Of all the incidents of Yudhisthira's 
life, you remember only his seeing hell. You don't remember his truthfulness, his forbearance, his 
patience, his discrimination, his dispassion, his devotion to God.' I was about to say many more 
things, when Hriday stopped my mouth. After a little while Jatindra left the place, saying he had 
some other business to attend to. 

"Many days later I went with Captain to see Raja Sourindra Tagore. As soon as I met him, I 
said, 'I can't address you as "Raja", or by any such title, for I should be telling a lie.' He talked to me 
a few minutes, but even so our conversation was interrupted by the frequent visits of Europeans 
and others. A man of rajasic temperament, Sourindra was naturally busy with many things. 
Jatindra his eldest brother, had been told of my coming, but he sent word that he had a pain in his 
throat and couldn't go out. 

"One day, in that state of divine intoxication, I went to the bathing-ghat on the Ganges at 
Baranagore. There I saw Jaya Mukherji repeating the name of God; but his mind was on something 
else. I went up and slapped him twice on the cheeks. 

"At one time Rani Rasmani was staying in the temple garden. She came to the shrine of the 
Divine Mother, as she frequently did when I worshipped Kali, and asked me to sing a song or two. 
On this occasion, while I was singing, I noticed she was sorting the flowers for worship 
absent-mindedly. At once I slapped her on the cheeks. She became quite embarrassed and sat 
there with folded hands. 

"Alarmed at this state of mind myself, I said to my cousin Haladhari: 'Just see my nature! 
How can I get rid of it?' After praying to the Divine Mother for some time with great yearning, I 
was able to shake off this habit. 


"When one gets into such a state of mind, one doesn't enjoy any conversation but that 
about God. I used to weep when I heard people talk about worldly matters. When I accompanied 
Mathur Babu on a pilgrimage, we spent a few days in Benares at Raja Babu's house. One day I was 
seated in the drawing-room with Mathur Babu, Raja Babu, and others. Hearing them talk about 
various worldly things, such as their business losses and so forth, I wept bitterly and said to the 
Divine Mother: 'Mother, where have You brought me? I was much better off in the temple garden 
at Dakshineswar. Here I am in a place where I must bear about "woman and gold". But at 
Dakshineswar I could avoid it.' " 

The Master asked the devotees, especially Narendra, to rest awhile, and he himself lay 
down on the smaller couch. 


Late in the afternoon Narendra sang. Rakhal, Latu, M., Hazra, and Priya, Narendra's Brahmo 
friend, were present. The singing was accompanied by the drum: 

Meditate, my mind, on the Lord Hari, The Stainless One, Pure Spirit through and through. 
How peerless is the light that in Him shines! How soul-bewitching is His wondrous form! How dear 
is He to all His devotees! 

After this song Narendra sang: 

Oh, when will dawn for me that day of blessedness When He who is all Good, all Beauty, 
and all Truth, Will light the inmost shrine of my heart? When shall I sink at last, ever beholding 
Him, into that Ocean of Delight? Lord, as Infinite Wisdom Thou shalt enter my soul, And my 
unquiet mind, made speechless by Thy sight, Will find a haven at Thy feet. In my heart's 
firmament, Lord, Thou wilt arise As Blissful Immortality; And as, when the chakora beholds the 
rising moon, It sports about for very joy, So, too, shall I be filled with heavenly happiness When 
Thou appearest unto me. 

Thou One without a Second, all Peace, the King of Kings! At Thy beloved feet I shall 
renounce my life and so at last shall gain life's goal; 1 shall enjoy the bliss of heaven while yet on 
earth! Where else is a boon so rare bestowed? Then shall I see Thy glory, pure and untouched by 
stain; as darkness flees from night, so will my darkest sins Desert me at Thy dawn's approach. 
Kindle in me, Lord, the blazing fire of faith to be the pole-star of my life; Succour of the weak, 
fulfil my one desire! Then shall I bathe both day and night in the boundless bliss of Thy Love, and 
utterly forget Myself, Lord, attaining Thee. 

Narendra sang again: 

With beaming face chant the sweet name of God Till in your heart the nectar overflows. 
Drink of it ceaselessly and share it with all! If ever your heart runs dry, parched by the flames of 
worldly desire, chant the sweet name of God, And heavenly love will moisten your arid soul. 

Be sure, mind, you never forget to chant His holy name: when danger stares in your face, 
Call on Him, your Father Compassionate; With His name's thunder, snap the fetters of sin! come, 
let us fulfil our hearts' desires By drinking deep of Everlasting Joy, Made one with Him in Love's 
pure ecstasy. 

Now Narendra and the devotees began to sing kirtan, accompanied by the drum and 
cymbals. They moved round and round the Master as they sang: 

Immerse yourself for evermore, mind, In Him who is Pure Knowledge and Pure Bliss. 

Next they sang: 

Oh, when will dawn for me that day of blessedness When He who is all Good, all Beauty, 
and all Truth Will light the inmost shrine of my heart? 

At last Narendra himself was playing on the drums, and he sang with the Master, full of joy: 


When the music was over, Sri Ramakrishna held Narendra in his arms a long time and said, 
"You have made us so happy today!" The flood-gate of the Master's heart was open so wide, that 
night, that he could hardly contain himself for joy. It was eight o'clock in the evening. Intoxicated 
with divine love, he paced the long verandah north of his room. Now and then he could be heard 
talking to the Divine Mother. Suddenly he said in an excited voice, "What can you do to me?" Was 
the Master hinting that maya was helpless before him, since he had the Divine Mother for his 

Narendra, M., and Priya were going to spend the night at the temple garden. This pleased 
the Master highly, especially since Narendra would be with him. The Holy Mother, who was living 
in the nahabat, had prepared the supper. Surendra bore the greater part of the Master's expenses. 
The meal was ready, and the plates were set out on the southeast verandah of the Masters room. 

Near the east door of his room Narendra and the other devotees were gossiping. 

NARENDRA: "How do you find the young men nowadays?" 

M: "They are not bad; but they don't receive any religious instructions". 

NARENDRA: "But from my experience I feel they are going to the dogs. They smoke 
cigarettes, indulge in frivolous talk, enjoy foppishness, play truant, and do everything of that sort. I 
have even seen them visiting questionable places." 

M: "I didn't notice such things during our student days." 

NARENDRA: "Perhaps you didn't mix with the students intimately. I have even seen them 
talking with people of immoral character. Perhaps they are on terms of intimacy with them." 

M: "It is strange indeed." 

NARENDRA: "I know that many of them form bad habits. It would be proper if the guardians 
of the boys, and the authorities, kept their eyes on these matters." 

They were talking thus when Sri Ramakrishna came to them and asked with a smile, "Well, 
what are you talking about?" 

NARENDRA: "I have been asking M. about the boys in the schools. The conduct of students 
nowadays isn't all that it should be." 

The Master became grave and said to M. rather seriously: "This kind of conversation is not 
good. It isn't desirable to indulge in any talk but talk of God. You are their senior, and you are 
intelligent. You should not have encouraged them to talk about such matters." 

Narendra was then about nineteen years old, and M. about twenty-eight. Thus admonished, 
M. felt embarrassed, and the others also fell silent. 

While the devotees were enjoying their meal, Sri Ramakrishna stood by and watched them 
with intense delight. That night the Master's joy was very great. 

After supper the devotees rested on the mat spread on the floor of the Master's room. They 
began to talk with him. It was indeed a mart of joy. The Master asked Narendra to sing the song 
beginning with the line: "In Wisdom's firmament the moon of Love is rising full." 

Narendra sang, and other devotees played the drums and cymbals: 

In Wisdom's firmament the moon of Love is rising full, And Love's flood-tide, in surging 
waves, is flowing everywhere. Lord, how full of bliss Thou art! Victory unto Thee! 

On every side shine devotees, like stars around the moon; Their Friend, the Lord 
All-merciful, joyously plays with them. Behold! The gates of paradise today are open wide. 

The soft spring wind of the New Day raises fresh waves of joy; gently it carries to the earth 
the fragrance of God's Love, till all the yogis, drunk with bliss, are lost in ecstasy. 

Upon the sea of the world unfolds the lotus of the New Day, and there the Mother sits 
enshrined in blissful majesty. See how the bees are mad with joy, sipping the nectar there! 

Behold the Mother's radiant face, which so enchants the heart and captivates the universe! 
About Her Lotus Feet Bands of ecstatic holy men are dancing in delight. 

What matchless loveliness is Hers! What infinite content pervades the heart when She 
appears! brothers, says Premdas, I humbly beg you, one and all, to sing the Mother's praise! 

Sri Ramakrishna sang and danced, and the devotees danced around him. 

When the song was over, the Master walked up and down the northeast verandah, where 
Hazra was seated with M. The Master sat down there. He asked a devotee, "Do you ever have 

DEVOTEE: "Yes, sir. The other day I dreamt a strange dream. I saw the whole world 
enveloped in water. There was water on all sides. A few boats were visible, but suddenly huge 
waves appeared and sank them. I was about to board a ship with a few others, when we saw a 
brahmin walking over that expanse of water. I asked him, 'How can you walk over the deep?' The 
brahmin said with a smile: 'Oh, there is no difficulty about that. There is a bridge under the water.' 
I said to him, 'Where are you going?' 'To Bhawanipur, the city of the Divine Mother', he replied. 
'Wait a little', I cried. 'I shall accompany you.' " 

MASTER: "Oh. I am thrilled to hear the story!" 

DEVOTEE: "The brahmin said: 'I am in a hurry. It will take you some time to get out of the 
boat. Good-bye. Remember this path and come after me. 

MASTER: "Oh, my hair is standing on end! Please be initiated by a guru as soon as possible." 

Shortly before midnight Narendra and the other devotees lay down on a bed made on the 
floor of the Master's room. 

At dawn some of the devotees were up. They saw the Master, naked as a child, pacing up 
and down the room, repeating the names of the various gods and goddesses. His voice was sweet 
as nectar. Now he would look at the Ganges, now stop in front of the pictures hanging on the wall 
and bow down before them, chanting all the while the holy names in his sweet voice. He 
chanted: "Veda, Purana, Tantra; Gita, Gayatri; Bhagavata, Bhakta, Bhagavan." Referring to the 
Gita, he repeated many times, "Tagi, tagi, tagi." Now and then he would say: "0 Mother, Thou art 
verily Brahman, and Thou art verily Sakti. Thou art Purusha and Thou art Prakriti. Thou art Virat. 
Thou art the Absolute, and Thou dost manifest Thyself as the Relative. Thou art verily the 
twenty-four cosmic principles." 

In the mean time the morning service had begun in the temples of Kali and Radhakanta. 
Sounds of conch-shells and cymbals were carried on the air. The devotees came outside the room 
and saw the priests and servants gathering flowers in the garden for the divine service in the 
temples. From the nahabat floated the sweet melody of musical instruments, befitting the 
morning hours. 

Narendra and the other devotees finished their morning duties and came to the Master. 
With a sweet smile on his lips Sri Ramakrishna was standing on the northeast verandah, close to 
his own room. 

NARENDRA: "We noticed several sannyasis belonging to the sect of Nanak in the 

MASTER: "Yes, they arrived here yesterday. (To Narendra) I'd like to see you all sitting 
together on the mat." 

As they sat there the Master looked at them with evident delight. He then began to talk 
with them. Narendra asked about spiritual discipline. 

MASTER: "Bhakti, love of God, is the essence of all spiritual discipline. Through love one 
acquires renunciation and discrimination naturally." 


NARENDRA: "Isn't it true that the Tantra prescribes spiritual discipline in the company of 
woman?" MASTER: "That is not desirable. It is a very difficult path and often causes the aspirant's 
downfall. There are three such kinds of discipline. One may regard woman as one's mistress or 
look on oneself as her handmaid or as her child. I look on woman as my mother. To look on oneself 
as her handmaid is also good; but it is extremely difficult to practise spiritual discipline looking on 
woman as one's mistress. To regard oneself as her child is a very pure attitude." 

The sannyasis belonging to the sect of Nanak entered the room and greeted the Master, 
saying, "Namo Narayanaya." Sri Ramakrishna asked them to sit down. 


MASTFR: "Nothing is impossible for God. Nobody can describe His nature in words. 
Everything is possible for Him. There lived at a certain place two yogis who were practising 
spiritual discipline. The sage Narada was passing that way one day. Realizing who he was, one of 
the yogis said: 'You have just come from God Himself. What is He doing now?' Narada replied, 
'Why, I saw Him making camels and elephants pass and repass through the eye of a needle.' At this 
the yogi said: 'Is that anything to wonder at? Everything is possible for God.' But the other yogi 
said: 'What? Making elephants pass through the eye of a needle - is that ever possible? You have 
never been to the Lord's dwelling-place.' " 

At nine o'clock in the morning, while the Master was still sitting in his room, Manomohan 
arrived from Konnagar with some members of his family. In answer to Sri Ramakrishna's kind 
inquiries, Manomohan explained that he was taking them to Calcutta. The Master said: "Today is 
the first day of the Bengali month, an inauspicious day for undertaking a journey. I hope everything 
will be well with you." With a smile he began to talk of other matters. 

When Narendra and his friends had finished bathing in the Ganges, the Master said to them 
earnestly: "Go to the Panchavati and meditate there under the banyan-tree. Shall I give you 
something to sit on?" 


About half past ten Narendra and his Brahmo friends were meditating in the Panchavati. 
After a while Sri Ramakrishna came to them. M., too, was present. 

The Master said to the Brahmo devotees: "In meditation one must be absorbed in God. By 
merely floating on the surface of the water, can you reach the gems lying at the bottom of the 

Then he sang: 

Taking the name of Kali, dive deep down, mind, Into the heart's fathomless depths, 
Where many a precious gem lies hid. But never believe the bed of the ocean bare of gems if in the 
first few dives you fail; with firm resolve and self-control Dive deep and make your way to Mother 
Kali's realm. 

Down in the ocean depths of heavenly Wisdom lie The wondrous pearls of Peace, mind; 
And you yourself can gather them, If you but have pure love and follow the scriptures' rule. 
Within those ocean depths, as well, Six alligators, lurk - lust, anger, and the rest - Swimming about 
in search of prey. Smear yourself with the turmeric of discrimination; The very smell of it will shield 
you from their jaws. Upon the ocean bed lie strewn Unnumbered pearls and precious gems; 
Plunge in, says Ramprasad, and gather up handfuls there! 

Narendra and his friends came down from their seats on the raised platform of the 
Panchavati and stood near the Master. He returned to his room with them. The Master continued: 
"When you plunge in the water of the ocean, you may be attacked by alligators. But they won't 
touch you if your body is smeared with turmeric. There are no doubt six alligators - lust, anger, 
avarice, and so on - within you, in the 'heart's fathomless depths'. But protect yourself with the 
turmeric of discrimination and renunciation, and they won't touch you. 


"What can you achieve by mere lecturing and scholarship without discrimination and 
dispassion? God alone is real, and all else is unreal. God alone is substance, and all else is 
nonentity. That is discrimination. 

"First of all set up God in the shrine of your heart, and then deliver lectures as much as you 
like. How will the mere repetition of 'Brahma' profit you if you are not imbued with discrimination 
and dispassion? It is the empty sound of a conch-shell. 

"There lived in a village a young man named Padmalochan. People used to call him 'Podo', 
for short. In this village there was a temple in a very dilapidated condition. It contained no image 
of God. Aswattha and other plants sprang up on the ruins of its walls. Bats lived inside, and the 
floor was covered with dust and the droppings of the bats. The people of the village had stopped 
visiting the temple. One day after dusk the villagers heard the sound of a conch-shell from the 
direction of the temple. They thought perhaps someone had installed an image in the shrine and 
was performing the evening worship. One of them softly opened the door and saw Padmalochan 

standing in a corner, blowing the conch. No image had been set up. The temple hadn't been swept 
or washed. And filth and dirt lay everywhere. Then he shouted to Podo: 

You have set up no image here, within the shrine, fool! Blowing the conch, you simply 
make Confusion worse confounded. Day and night eleven bats Scream there incessantly. 


"There is no use in merely making a noise if you want to establish the Deity in the shrine of 
your heart, if you want to realize God. First of all purify the mind. In the pure heart God takes His 
seat. One cannot bring the holy image into the temple if the droppings of bats are all around. The 
eleven bats are our eleven organs: five of action, five of perception, and the mind. 

"First of all invoke the Deity, and then give lectures to your heart's content. First of all dive 
deep. Plunge to the bottom and gather up the gems. Then you may do other things. But nobody 
wants to plunge. People are without spiritual discipline and prayer, without renunciation and 
dispassion. They learn a few words and immediately start to deliver lectures. It is difficult to teach 
others. Only if a man gets a command from God, after realizing Him, is he entitled to teach." 

Thus conversing, the Master came to the west end of the verandah. M stood by his side. 
Sri Ramakrishna had repeated again and again that God cannot be realized without discrimination 
and renunciation. This made M. extremely worried. He had married and was then a young man of 
twenty-eight, educated in college in the Western way. Having a sense of duty, he asked himself, 
"Do discrimination and dispassion mean giving up 'woman and gold'?" He was really at a loss to 
know what to do. 

M. (to the Master): "What should one do if one's wife says: 'You are neglecting me. I shall 
commit suicide?' " 

MASTER (in a serious tone): "Give up such a wife if she proves an obstacle in the way of 
spiritual life. Let her commit suicide or anything else she likes. The wife that hampers her 
husband's spiritual life is an ungodly wife." 

Immersed in deep thought, M. stood leaning against the wall. Narendra and the other 
devotees remained silent a few minutes. The Master exchanged several words with them; then, 
suddenly going to M., he whispered in his ear: "But if a man has sincere love for God, then all come 
under his control - the king, wicked persons, and his wife. 

Sincere love of God on the husband's part may eventually help the wife to lead a spiritual 
life. If the husband is good, then through the grace of God the wife may also follow his example." 

This had a most soothing effect on M.'s worried mind. All the while he had been thinking: 
"Let her commit suicide. What can I do?" 

M. (to the Master): "This world is a terrible place indeed." 

MASTER (to the devotees): "That is the reason Chaitanya said to his companion Nityananda, 
'Listen, brother, there is no hope of salvation for the worldly-minded.' " 

On another occasion the Master had said to M. privately: "Yes, there is no hope for a 
worldly man if he is not sincerely devoted to God. But he has nothing to fear if he remains in the 
world after realizing God. Nor need a man have any fear whatever of the world if he attains sincere 
devotion by practising spiritual discipline now and then in solitude. Chaitanya had several 
householders among his devotees, but they were householders in name only, for they lived 
unattached to the world." 

It was noon. The worship was over, and food offerings had been made in the temple. 
The doors of the temple were shut. Sri Ramakrishna sat down for his meal, and Narendra and the 
other devotees partook of the food offerings from the temple. 

Sunday, October 22, 1882 

It was the day of Vijaya, the last day of the celebration of the worship of Durga, when the 
clay image is immersed in the water of a lake or river. 

About nine o'clock in the morning M. was seated on the floor of the Master's room at 
Dakshineswar, near Sri Ramakrishna, who was reclining on the small couch. Rakhal was then living 
with the Master, and Narendra and Bhavanath visited him frequently. Baburam had seen him only 
once or twice. 

MASTER: "Did you have any holiday during the Durga Puja?" 

M: "Yes, sir. I went to Keshab's house every day for the first three days of the worship." 
M: "I heard there a very interesting interpretation of the Durga Puja." 
MASTER: "Please tell me all about it." 

M: "Keshab Sen held daily morning prayers in his house, lasting till ten or eleven. During 
these prayers he gave the inner meaning of the Durga Puja. He said that if anyone could realize the 
Divine Mother, that is to say, could install Mother Durga in the shrine of his heart, then Lakshmi, 
Sarasvati, Kartika, and Ganesa would come there of themselves. Lakshmi means wealth, Sarasvati 
knowledge, Kartika strength, and Ganesa success. By realizing the Divine Mother within one's 
heart, one gets all these without any effort whatever." 

MASTER: "Is that so?" 

Sri Ramakrishna listened to the description, questioning M. now and then about the prayers 
conducted by Keshab. At last he said to M.: "Don't go hither and thither. Come here alone. Those 
who belong to the inner circle of my devotees will come only here. Boys like Narendra, Bhavanath, 
and Rakhal are my very intimate disciples. They are not to be thought lightly of. Feed them one 
day. What do you think of Narendra?" 

M: "I think very highly of him, sir." 


MASTER: "Haven't you observed his many virtues? He is not only well versed in music, vocal 
and instrumental, but he is also very learned. Besides, he has controlled his passions and declares 
he will lead a celibate life. He has been devoted to God since his very boyhood. 


"How are you getting along with your meditation nowadays? What aspect of God appeals to 
your mind - with form or without form?" 

M: "Sir, now I can't fix my mind on God with form. On the other hand, I can't concentrate 
steadily on God without form." 

MASTER: "Now you see that the mind cannot be fixed, all of a sudden, on the formless 
aspect of God. It is wise to think of God with form during the primary stages." 

M: "Do you mean to suggest that one should meditate on clay images?" 

MASTER: "Why clay? These images are the embodiments of Consciousness." 

M: "Even so, one must think of hands, feet, and the other parts of body. But again, I realize 
that the mind cannot be concentrated unless one meditates, in the beginning, on God with form. 
You have told me so. Well, God can easily assume different forms. May one meditate on the form 
of one's own mother?" 

MASTER: "Yes, the mother should be adored. She is indeed an embodiment of Brahman." 

M. sat in silence. After a few minutes he asked the Master: "What does one feel while 
thinking of God without form? Isn't it possible to describe it?" After some reflection, the Master 
said, "Do you know what it is like?" He remained silent a moment and then said a few words to M. 
about one's experiences at the time of the vision of God with and without form. 

MASTER: "You see, one must practise spiritual discipline to understand this correctly. 
Suppose, there are treasures in a room. If you want to see them and lay hold of them, you must 
take the trouble to get the key and unlock the door. After that you must take the treasures out. 
But suppose the room is locked, and standing outside the door you say to yourself: 'Here I have 
opened the door. Now I have broken the lock of the chest. Now I have taken out the treasure.' 
Such brooding near the door will not enable you to achieve anything. You must practise discipline. 


"The jnanis think of God without form. They don't accept the Divine Incarnation. Praising Sri 
Krishna, Arjuna said, 'Thou art Brahman Absolute.' Sri Krishna replied, 'Follow Me, and you will 
know whether or not I am Brahman Absolute.' So saying, Sri Krishna led Arjuna to a certain place 
and asked him what he saw there. 'I see a huge tree,' said Arjuna, 'and on it I notice fruits hanging 
like clusters of blackberries.' Then Krishna said to Arjuna, 'Come nearer and you will find that these 
are not clusters of blackberries, but clusters of innumerable Krishnas like Me, hanging from the 

tree.' In other words, Divine Incarnations without number appear and disappear on the tree of the 
Absolute Brahman. 

"Kavirdas was strongly inclined to the formless God. At the mention of Krishna's name he 
would say: 'Why should I worship Him? The gopis would clap their hands while He performed a 
monkey dance.' (With a smile) But I accept God with form when I am in the company of people 
who believe in that ideal, and I also agree with those who believe in the formless God." 

M. (smiling): "You are as infinite as He of whom we have been talking. Truly, no one can 
fathom your depth." 

MASTER (smiling): "Ah! I see you have found it out. Let me tell you one thing. One should 
follow various paths. One should practise each creed for a time. In a game of satrancha a piece 
can't reach the centre square until it completes the circle; but once in the square it can't be 
overtaken by any other piece." 

M: "That is true, sir." 

MASTER: "There are two classes of yogis: the bahudakas and the kutichakas. The bahudakas 
roam about visiting various holy places and have not yet found peace of mind. But the kutichakas, 
having visited all the sacred places, have quieted their minds. Feeling serene and peaceful, they 
settle down in one place and no longer move about. In that one place they are happy; they don't 
feel the need of going to any sacred place. If one of them ever visits a place of pilgrimage, it is only 
for the purpose of new inspiration. 

"I had to practise each religion for a time - Hinduism, Islam, Christianity. Furthermore, I 
followed the paths of the Saktas, Vaishnavas, and Vedantists. I realized that there is only one God 
toward whom all are travelling; but the paths are different. 

"While visiting the holy places, I would sometimes suffer great agony. Once I went with 
Mathur to Raja Babu's drawing-room in Benares. I found that they talked there only of worldly 
matters - money, real estate, and the like. At this I burst into tears. I said to the Divine Mother, 
weeping: 'Mother! Where hast Thou brought me? I was much better off at Dakshineswar.' In 
Allahabad I noticed the same things that I saw elsewhere - the same ponds, the same grass, the 
same trees, the same tamarind-leaves. 


"But one undoubtedly finds inspiration in a holy place. I accompanied Mathur Babu to 
Vrindavan. Hriday and the ladies of Mathur's family were in our party. No sooner did I see the 
Kaliyadaman Ghat than a divine emotion surged up within me. I was completely overwhelmed. 
Hriday used to bathe me there as if I were a small child. 

"In the dusk I would walk on the bank of the Jamuna when the cattle returned along the 
sandy banks from their pastures. At the very sight of those cows the thought of Krishna would 
flash in my mind. I would run along like a madman, crying: 'Oh, where is Krishna? Where is my 

"I went to Syamakunda and Radhakunda in a palanquin and got out to visit the holy Mount 
Govardhan. At the very sight of the mount I was overpowered with divine emotion and ran to the 
top. I lost all consciousness of the world around me. The residents of the place helped me to come 
down. On my way to the sacred pools of Syamakunda and Radhakunda, when I saw the meadows, 
the trees, the shrubs, the birds, and the deer, I was overcome with ecstasy. My clothes became 
wet with tears. I said: '0 Krishna! Everything here is as it was in the olden days. You alone are 
absent.' Seated inside the palanquin I lost all power of speech. Hriday followed the palanquin. He 
had warned the bearers to be careful about me. 

"Gangamayi became very fond of me in Vrindavan. She was an old woman who lived all 
alone in a hut near the Nidhuvan. Referring to my spiritual condition and ecstasy, she said, 'He is 
the very embodiment of Radha.' She addressed me as 'Dulali'. When with her, I used to forget my 
food and drink, my bath, and all thought of going home. On some days Hriday used to bring food 
from home and feed me. Gangamayi also would serve me with food prepared by her own hands. 

"Gangamayi used to experience trances. At such times a great crowd would come to see 
her. One day, in a state of ecstasy, she climbed on Hriday's shoulders. 

"I didn't want to leave her and return to Calcutta. Everything was arranged for me to stay 
with her. I was to eat double-boiled rice, and we were to have our beds on either side of the 
cottage. All the arrangements had been made, when Hriday said: 'You have such a weak stomach. 
Who will look after you?' 'Why,' said Gangamayi, 'I shall look after him. I'll nurse him.' As Hriday 
dragged me by one hand and she by the other, I remembered my mother, who was then living 
alone here in the nahabat of temple garden. I found it impossible to stay away from her, and said 
to Gangamayi, 'No, I must go.' I loved the atmosphere of Vrindavan." 

About eleven o'clock the Master took his meal, the offerings from temple of Kali. After 
taking his noonday rest he resumed his conversation with the devotees. Every now and then he 
uttered the holy word "Om" or repeated the sacred names of the deities. 

After sunset the evening worship was performed in the temples. Since it was the day of 
Vijaya, the devotees first saluted the Divine Mother and then took the dust of the Master's feet. 

Tuesday, October 24,1882 

It was three or four o'clock in the afternoon. The Master was standing near the shelf where 
the food was kept, when Balaram and M. arrived from Calcutta and saluted him. Sri Ramakrishna 
said to them with a smile: "I was going to take some sweets from the shelf, but no sooner did I put 
my hand on them than a lizard dropped on my body. At once I removed my hand. (All laugh.) 

"Oh, yes! One should observe all these things. You see, Rakhal is ill, and my limbs ache too. 
Do you know what's the matter? This morning as I was leaving my bed I saw a certain person, 
whom I took for Rakhal. (All laugh.) Oh, yes! Physical features should be studied. The other day 
Narendra brought one of his friends, a man with only one good eye, though the other eye was not 
totally blind. I said to myself, 'What is this trouble that Narendra has brought with him?' 

"A certain person comes here, but I can't eat any food that he brings. He works in an office 
at a salary of twenty rupees and earns another twenty by writing false bills. I can't utter a word in 
his presence, because he tells lies. Sometimes he stays here two or three days without going to his 
office. Can you guess his purpose? It is that I should recommend him to someone for a job 
somewhere else. 

"Balaram comes from a family of devout Vaishnavas. His father, now an old man, is a pious 
devotee. He has a tuft of hair on his head, a rosary of tulsi beads round his neck, and a string of 
beads in his hand. He devotes his time to the repetition of God's name. He owns much property in 
Orissa and has built temples to Radha-Krishna in Kothar, Vrindavan, and other places, establishing 
free guest-houses as well. 

(To Balaram) "A certain person came here the other day. I understand he is the slave of that 
black hag of a wife. Why is it that people do not see God? It is because of the barrier of 'woman 
and gold'. How impudent he was to say to you the other day, 'A paramahamsa came to my father, 
who fed him with chicken curry!' 

"In my present of my mind I can eat a little fish soup if it has been offered to the Divine 
Mother beforehand. I can't eat any meat, even if it is offered to the Divine Mother; but I taste it 
with the end of my finger lest She should be angry. (Laughter.) 

"Well, can you explain this state of my mind? Once I was going from Burdwan to 
Kamarpukur in a bullock-cart, when a great storm arose. Some people gathered near the cart. 
My companions said they were robbers. So I began to repeat the names of God, calling sometimes 
on Kali, sometimes on Rama, sometimes on Hanuman. What do you think of that?" 

Was the Master hinting that God is one but is addressed differently by different sects? 

MASTER (to Balaram): "Maya is nothing but 'woman and gold'. A man living in its midst 
gradually loses his spiritual alertness. He thinks all is well with him. The scavenger carries a tub of 
night-soil on his head, and in course of time loses his repulsion to it. One gradually acquires love of 
God through the practice of chanting God's name and glories. (To M.) One should not be ashamed 
of chanting God's holy name. As the saying goes, 'One does not succeed so long as one has these 
three: shame, hatred, and fear.' 

"At Kamarpukur they sing kirtan very well. The devotional music is sung to the 
accompaniment of drums. 

(To Balaram) "Have you installed any image at Vrindavan?" 

BALARAM: "Yes, sir. We have a grove where Krishna is worshipped." 


October 27, 1882 

Master's boat trip with Keshab 

IT WAS FRIDAY, the day of the Lakshmi Puja. Keshab Chandra Sen had arranged a boat trip 
on the Ganges for Sri Ramakrishna. 

About four o'clock in the afternoon the steamboat with Keshab and his Brahmo followers 
cast anchor in the Ganges alongside the Kali temple at Dakshineswar. The passengers saw in front 
of them the bathing-ghat and the chandni. To their left, in the temple compound, stood six 
temples of Siva, and to their right another group of six Siva temples. The white steeple of the Kali 
temple, the tree-tops of the Panchavati, and the silhouette of pine-trees stood high against the 
blue autumn sky. The gardens between the two nahabats were filled with fragrant flowers, and 
along the bank of the Ganges were rows of flowering plants. The blue sky was reflected in the 
brown water of the river, the sacred Ganges, associated with the most ancient traditions of Aryan 
civilization. The outer world appeared soft and serene, and the hearts of the Brahmo devotees 
were filled with peace. 


Sri Ramakrishna was in his room talking with Vijay and Haralal. Some disciples of Keshab 
entered. Bowing before the Master, they said to him: "Sir, the steamer has arrived. Keshab Babu 
has asked us to take you there." A small boat was to carry the Master to the steamer. No sooner 
did he get into the boat than he lost outer consciousness in samadhi. Vijay was with him. 

M. was among the passengers. As the boat came alongside the steamer, all rushed to the 
railing to have a view of Sri Ramakrishna. Keshab became anxious to get him safely on board. With 
great difficulty the Master was brought back to consciousness of the world and taken to a cabin in 
the steamer. Still in an abstracted mood, he walked mechanically, leaning on a devotee for 
support. Keshab and the others bowed before him, but he was not aware of them. Inside the cabin 
there were a few chairs and a table. He was made to sit on one of the chairs, Keshab and Vijay 
occupying two others. Some devotees were also seated, most of them on the floor, while many 
others had to stand outside. They peered eagerly through the door and windows. Sri Ramakrishna 
again went into deep samadhi and became totally unconscious of the outer world. 

As the air in the room was stuffy because of the crowd of people, Keshab opened the 
windows. He was embarrassed to meet Vijay, since they had differed in certain principles of the 
Brahrno Samaj and Vijay had separated himself from Keshab's organization, joining another 

The Brahmo devotees looked wistfully at the Master. Gradually he came back to sense 
consciousness; but the divine intoxication still lingered. He said to himself in a whisper: "Mother, 
why have You brought me here? They are hedged around and not free. Can I free them?" Did the 
Master find that the people assembled there were locked within the prison walls of the world? Did 
their helplessness make the Master address these words to the Divine Mother? 


Sri Ramakrishna was gradually becoming conscious of the outside world. Nilmadhav of 
Ghazipur and a Brahmo devotee were talking about Pavhari Baba. Another Brahmo devotee said 

to the Master: "Sir, these gentlemen visited Pavhari Baba. He lives in Ghazipur. He is a holy man 
like yourself." The Master could hardly talk; he only smiled. The devotee continued, "Sir, Pavhari 
Baba keeps your photograph in his room." Pointing to his body the Master said with a smile, "Just 
a pillow-case." 

The Master continued: "But you should remember that the heart of the devotee is the 
abode of God. He dwells, no doubt, in all beings, but He especially manifests Himself in the heart 
of the devotee. A landlord may at one time or another visit all parts of his estate, but people say 
he is generally to be found in a particular drawing-room. The heart of the devotee is the 
drawing-room of God. 


"He who is called Brahman by the jnanis is known as Atman by the yogis and as Bhagavan 
by the bhaktas. The same brahmin is called priest, when worshipping in the temple, and cook, 
when preparing a meal in the kitchen. The jnani sticking to the path of knowledge, always reasons 
about the Reality, saying, 'Not this, not this'. Brahman is neither 'this' nor 'that'; It is neither the 
universe nor its living beings. Reasoning in this way, the mind becomes steady. Then it 
disappears and the aspirant goes into samadhi. This is the knowledge of Brahman. It is the 
unwavering conviction of the jnani that Brahman alone is real and the world illusory. All these 
names and forms are illusory, like a dream. What Brahman is cannot be described. One cannot 
even say that Brahman is a Person. This is the opinion of the jnanis, the followers of Vedanta 

"But the bhaktas accept all the states of consciousness. They take the waking state to be 
real also. They don't think the world to be illusory, like a dream. They say that the universe is a 
manifestation of God's power and glory. God has created all these - sky, stars, moon, sun, 
mountains, ocean, men, animals. They constitute His glory. He is within us, in our hearts. Again, He 
is outside. The most advanced devotees say that He Himself has become all this - the twenty-four 
cosmic principles, the universe, and all living beings. The devotee of God wants to eat sugar, not to 
become sugar. (All laugh.) 

"Do you know how a lover of God feels? His attitude is: '0 God, Thou are the Master, and I 
am Thy servant. Thou art the Mother, and I am Thy child.' Or again: 'Thou art my Father and 
Mother. Thou art the Whole, and I am a part.' He doesn't like to say, 'I am Brahman.' 


"The yogi seeks to realize the Paramatman, the Supreme Soul. His ideal is the union of the 
embodied soul and the Supreme Soul. He withdraws his mind from sense-objects and tries to 
concentrate it on the Paramatman. Therefore, during the first stage of his spiritual discipline, he 
retires into solitude and with undivided attention practises meditation in a fixed posture. 

"But the Reality is one and the same. The difference is only in name. He who is Brahman is 
verily Atman, and again, He is the Bhagavan. He is Brahman to the followers of the path of 
knowledge, Paramatman to the yogis, and Bhagavan to the lovers of God." 

The steamer had been going toward Calcutta; but the passengers, with their eyes fixed on 
the Master and their ears given to his nectar-like words, were oblivious of its motion. 
Dakshineswar, with its temples and gardens, was left behind. The paddles of the boat churned the 
waters of the Ganges with a murmuring sound. But the devotees were indifferent to all this. 
Spellbound, they looked on a great yogi, his face lighted with a divine smile, his countenance 
radiating love, his eyes sparkling with joy-a man who had renounced all for God and who knew 
nothing but God. Unceasing words of wisdom flowed from his lips. 


MASTIER: "The jnanis, who adhere to the non-dualistic philosophy of Vedanta, say that the 
acts of creation, preservation, and destruction, the universe itself and all its living beings, are the 
manifestations of Sakti, the Divine Power. If you reason it out, you will realize that all these are as 
illusory as a dream. Brahman alone is the Reality, and all else is unreal. Even this very Sakti is 
unsubstantial, like a dream. 

"But though you reason all your life, unless you are established in samadhi, you cannot go 
beyond the jurisdiction of Sakti. Even when you say, 'I am meditating', or 'I am contemplating', 
still you are moving in the realm of Sakti, within Its power. 


"Thus Brahman and Sakti are identical. If you accept the one, you must accept the other. It 
is like fire and its power to burn. If you see the fire, you must recognize its power to burn also. 
You cannot think of fire without its power to burn, nor can you think of the power to burn without 
fire. You cannot conceive of the sun's rays without the sun, nor can you conceive of the sun 
without its rays. 

"What is milk like? Oh, you say, it is something white. You cannot think of the milk without 
the whiteness, and again, you cannot think of the whiteness without the milk. 

"Thus one cannot think of Brahman without Sakti, or of Sakti without Brahman. One cannot 
think of the Absolute without the Relative, or of the Relative without the Absolute. 

"The Primordial Power is ever at play. She is creating, preserving, and destroying in play, as 
it were. This Power is called Kali. Kali is verily Brahman, and Brahman is verily Kali. It is one and the 
same Reality. When we think of It as inactive, that is to say, not engaged in the acts of creation, 
preservation, and destruction, then we call It Brahman. But when It engages in these activities, 
then we call It Kali or Sakti. The Reality is one and the same; the difference is in name and form. 

"It is like water, called in different languages by different names, such as 'jal', 'pani', and so 
forth. There are three or four ghats on a lake. The Hindus, who drink water at one place, call it 'jal'. 
The Mussalmans at another place call it 'pani'. And the English at a third place call it 'water'. All 
three denote one and the same thing, the difference being in the name only. In the same way, 
some address the Reality as 'Allah', some as 'God', some as 'Brahman', some as 'Kali', and others by 
such names as 'Rama', 'Jesus', 'Durga', 'Hari.' " 


KESHAB (with a smile): "Describe to us, sir, in how many ways Kali, the Divine Mother, 
sports in this world." MASTER (with a smile): "Oh, She plays in different ways. It is She alone who is 
known as Maha-Kali, Nitya-Kali, Smasana-Kali, Raksha-Kali, and Syama-Kali. Maha-Kali and 
Nitya-Kali are mentioned in the Tantra philosophy. When there were neither the creation, nor the 
sun, the moon, the planets, and the earth and when darkness was enveloped in darkness, then 
the Mother, the Formless One, Maha-Kali, the Great Power, was one with Maha-Kala, the 

"Syama-Kali has a somewhat tender aspect and is worshipped in the Hindu households. She 
is the Dispenser of boons and the Dispeller of fear. People worship Raksha-Kali, the Protectress, in 
times of epidemic, famine, earthquake, drought, and flood. Smasana-Kali is the embodiment of the 
power of destruction. She resides in the cremation ground, surrounded by corpses, jackals, and 
terrible female spirits. From Her mouth flows a stream of blood, from Her neck hangs a garland of 
human heads, and around Her waist is a girdle made of human hands. 


"After the destruction of the universe, at the end of a great cycle, the Divine Mother 
garners the seeds for the next creation. She is like the elderly mistress of the house, who has a 
hotchpotch-pot in which she keeps different articles for household use. (All laugh.) 

"Oh, yes! Housewives have pots like that, where they keep 'sea-foam', blue pills, small 
bundles of seeds of cucumber, pumpkin, and gourd, and so on. They take them out when they 
want them. In the same way, after the destruction of the universe, my Divine Mother, the 
Embodiment of Brahman, gathers together the seeds for the next creation. After the creation the 
Primal Power dwells in the universe itself. She brings forth this phenomenal world and then 
pervades it. In the Vedas creation is likened to the spider and its web. The spider brings the web 
out of itself and then remains in it. God is the container of the universe and also what is contained 
in it. 

"Is Kali, my Divine Mother, of a black complexion? She appears black because She is viewed 
from a distance; but when intimately known She is no longer so. The sky appears blue at a 
distance; but look at it close by and you will find that it has no colour. The water of the ocean looks 
blue at a distance, but when you go near and take it in your hand, you find that it is colourless." 

The Master became intoxicated with divine love and sang: 

Is Kali, my Mother, really black? The Naked One, of blackest hue, Lights the Lotus of the 
Heart. . . . 

The Master continued: "Bondage and liberation are both of Her making. By Her Maya 
worldly people become entangled in 'woman and gold', and again, through Her grace they attain 
their liberation. She is called Saviour, and the remover of the bondage that binds one to the 


Then the Master sang the following song in his melodious voice: 

In the world's busy market-place, Syama, Thou art flying kites; High up they soar on the 
wind of hope, held fast by maya's string. Their frames are human skeletons, their sails of the three 
gunas made; But all their curious workmanship is merely for ornament. Upon the kite-strings Thou 
hast rubbed the manja-paste of worldliness, So as to make each straining strand all the more sharp 
and strong. Out of a hundred thousand kites, at best but one or two break free; And Thou dost 
laugh and clap Thy hands, Mother, watching them! On favouring winds, says Ramprasad, the 
kites set loose will speedily Be borne away to the Infinite, across the sea of the world. 

The Master said: "The Divine Mother is always playful and sportive. This universe is Her 
play. She is self-willed and must always have Her own way. She is full of bliss. She gives freedom to 
one out of a hundred thousand." 

A BRAHMO DEVOTEE: "But, sir, if She likes, She can give freedom to all. Why, then, has She 
kept us bound to the world?" 

MASTER: "That is Her will. She wants to continue playing with Her created beings. In a game 
of hide-and-seek the running about soon stops if in the beginning all the players touch the 
'granny'. If all touch her, then how can the game go on? That displeases her. Her pleasure is in 
continuing the game. Therefore the poet said: 

Out of a hundred thousand kites, at best but one or two break free; And Thou dost laugh 
and clap Thy hands, Mother, watching them! 


"It is as if the Divine Mother said to the human mind in confidence, with a sign from Her 
eye, 'Go and enjoy the world.' How can one blame the mind? The mind can disentangle itself from 
worldliness if, through Her grace, She makes it turn toward Herself. Only then does it become 
devoted to the Lotus Feet of the Divine Mother." 

Whereupon Sri Ramakrishna, taking upon himself, as it were, the agonies of all 
householders, sang a song complaining to the Divine Mother: 

Mother, this is the grief that sorely grieves my heart, that even with Thee for Mother, and 
though I am wide awake, There should be robbery in my house. Many and many a time I vow to 
call on Thee, Yet when the time for prayer comes round, I have forgotten. Now I see it is all Thy 

As Thou hast never given, so Thou receivest naught; Am I to blame for this, Mother? 
Hadst Thou but given, Surely then Thou hadst received; Out of Thine own gifts I should have given 
to Thee. Glory and shame, bitter and sweet, are Thine alone; This world is nothing but Thy play. 
Then why, Blissful One, dost Thou cause a rift in it? 

Says Ramprasad: Thou hast bestowed on me this mind, And with a knowing wink of Thine 
eye Bidden it, at the same time, to go and enjoy the world. And so I wander here forlorn through 

Thy creation, Blasted, as it were, by someone's evil glance, Taking the bitter for the sweet, 
Taking the unreal for the Real. 

The Master continued: "Men are deluded through Her maya and have become attached to 
the world. 

Says Ramprasad: Thou hast bestowed on me this mind, And with a knowing wink of Thine 
eye Bidden it, at the same time, to go and enjoy the world." 

BRAHMO DEVOTEE: "Sir, can't we realize God without complete renunciation?" 

MASTFR (with a laugh): "Of course you can! Why should you renounce everything? You are 
all right as you are, following the middle path-like molasses partly solid and partly liquid. Do you 
know the game of nax? Having scored the maximum number of points, I am out of the game. I 
can't enjoy it. But you are very clever. Some of you have scored ten points, some six, and some 
five. You have scored just the right number; so you are not out of the game like me. The game can 
go on. Why, that's fine! (All laugh.) 

"I tell you the truth: there is nothing wrong in your being in the world. But you must direct 
your mind toward God; otherwise you will not succeed. Do your duty with one hand and with the 
other hold to God. After the duty is over, you will hold to God with both hands. 


"It is all a question of the mind. Bondage and liberation are of the mind alone. The mind 
will take the colour you dye it with. It is like white clothes just returned from the laundry. If you dip 
them in red dye, they will be red. If you dip them in blue or green, they will be blue or green. They 
will take only the colour you dip them in, whatever it may be. Haven't you noticed that, if you read 
a little English, you at once begin to utter English words: Foot fut it mit? Then you put on boots 
and whistle a tune, and so on. It all goes together. Or, if a scholar studies Sanskrit, he will at once 
rattle off Sanskrit verses. If you are in bad company, then you will talk and think like your 
companions. On the other hand, when you are in the company of devotees, you will think and talk 
only of God. 

"The mind is everything. A man has his wife on one side and his daughter on the other. He 
shows his affection to them in different ways. But his mind is one and the same. 

"Bondage is of the mind, and freedom is also of the mind. A man is free if he constantly 
thinks: 'I am a free soul. How can I be bound, whether I live in the world or in the forest? I am a 
child of God, the King of Kings. Who can bind me?' If bitten by a snake, a man may get rid of its 
venom by saying emphatically, 'There is no poison in me.' In the same way, by repeating with grit 
and determination, 'I am not bound, I am free', one really becomes so-one really becomes free. 

"Once someone gave me a book of the Christians. I asked him to read it to me. It talked 
about nothing but sin. (To Keshab) Sin is the only thing one hears of at your Brahmo Samaj, too. 
The wretch who constantly says, 'I am bound, I am bound' only succeeds in being bound. He who 
says day and night, 'I am a sinner, I am a sinner' verily becomes a sinner. 


"One should have such burning faith in God that one can say: 'What? I have repeated the 
name of God, and can sin still cling to me? How can I be a sinner any more? How can I be in 
bondage any more?' 

"If a man repeats the name of God, his body, mind, and everything become pure. Why 
should one talk only about sin and hell, and such things? Say but once, '0 Lord, I have undoubtedly 
done wicked things, but I won't repeat them.' And have faith in His name." 

Sri Ramakrishna became intoxicated with divine love and sang: 

If only I can pass away repeating Durga's name, How canst Thou then, Blessed One, 
Withhold from me deliverance, Wretched though I may be? . . . 


Then he said: "To my Divine Mother I prayed only for pure love. I offered flowers at Her 
Lotus Feet and prayed to Her: 'Mother, here is Thy virtue, here is Thy vice. Take them both and 
grant me only pure love for Thee. Here is Thy knowledge, here is Thy ignorance. Take them both 
and grant me only pure love for Thee. Here is Thy purity, here is Thy impurity. Take them both, 
Mother, and grant me only pure love for Thee. Here is Thy dharma, here is Thy adharma. Take 
them both, Mother, and grant me only pure love for Thee.' 

(To the Brahmo devotees) "Now listen to a song by Ramprasad: 

Come, let us go for a walk, mind, to Kali, the Wish-fulfilling Tree, And there beneath It 
gather the four fruits of life. Of your two wives, Dispassion and Worldliness, Bring alone Dispassion 
only, on your way to the Tree, And ask her son Discrimination about the Truth. 

When will you learn to lie, mind, in the abode of Blessedness, With Cleanliness and 
Defilement on either side of you? Only when you have found the way to keep these wives 
contentedly under a single roof, Will you behold the matchless form of Mother Syama. 

Ego and Ignorance, your parents, instantly banish from your sight; And should Delusion seek 
to drag you to its hole, Manfully cling to the pillar of Patience. Tie to the post of Unconcern the 
goats of Vice and Virtue, Killing them with the sword of Knowledge if they rebel. With the children 
of Worldliness, your first wife, plead from a goodly distance, And, if they will not listen, drown 
them in Wisdom's sea. Says Ramprasad: If you do as I say, You can submit a good account, mind, 
to the King of Death, And I shall be well pleased with you and call you my darling. 

"Why shouldn't one be able to realize God in this world? King Janaka had such realization. 
Ramprasad described the world as a mere 'framework of illusion'. But if one loves God's hallowed 
feet, then- This very world is a mansion of mirth; Here I can eat, here drink and make merry. 
Janaka's might was unsurpassed; What did he lack of the world or the Spirit? Holding to one as 
well as the other, He drank his milk from a brimming cup! (All laugh.) 

"But one cannot be a King Janaka all of a sudden. Janaka at first practised much austerity in 


"Even if one lives in the world, one must go into solitude now and then. It will be of great 
help to a man if he goes away from his family, lives alone, and weeps for God even for three days. 
Even if he thinks of God for one day in solitude, when he has the leisure, that too will do him good. 
People shed a whole jug of tears for wife and children. But who cries for the Lord? Now and then 
one must go into solitude and practise spiritual discipline to realize God. Living in the world and 
entangled in many of its duties, the aspirant, during the first stage of spiritual life, finds many 
obstacles in the path of concentration. While the trees on the foot-path are young, they must he 
fenced around; otherwise they will be destroyed by cattle. The fence is necessary when the tree is 
young, but it can be taken away when the trunk is thick and strong. Then the tree won't be hurt 
even if an elephant is tied to it. 


"The disease of worldliness is like typhoid. And there are a huge jug of water and a jar of 
savoury pickles in the typhoid patient's room. If you want to cure him of his illness, you must 
remove him from that room. The worldly man is like the typhoid patient. The various objects of 
enjoyment are the huge jug of water, and the craving for their enjoyment is his thirst. The very 
thought of pickles makes the mouth water; you don't have to bring them near. And he is 
surrounded with them. The companionship of woman is the pickles. Hence treatment in solitude is 

"One may enter the world after attaining discrimination and dispassion. In the ocean of the 
world there are six alligators: lust, anger, and so forth. But you need not fear the alligators if you 
smear your body with turmeric before you go into the water. 

Discrimination and dispassion are the turmeric. Discrimination is the knowledge of what is 
real and what is unreal. It is the realization that God alone is the real and eternal Substance and 
that all else is unreal, transitory, impermanent. And you must cultivate intense zeal for God. You 
must feel love for Him and be attracted to Him. The gopis of Vrindavan felt the attraction of 
Krishna. Let me sing you a song: 

Listen! The flute has sounded in yonder wood. There I must fly, for Krishna waits on the 
path. Tell me, friends, will you come along or no? To you my Krishna is merely an empty name; To 
me He is the anguish of my heart. You hear His flute-notes onlv with your ears, But, oh, I hear 
them in my deepest soul. I hear His flute calling: 'Radha come out! Without you the grove is shorn 
of its loveliness.' " 

The Master sang the song with tears in his eyes, and said to Keshab and the other Brahmo 
devotees: "Whether you accept Radha and Krishna, or not, please do accept their attraction for 
each other. Try to create that same yearning in your heart for God. Yearning is all you need in 
order to realize Him." 

Gradually the ebb-tide set in. The steamboat was speeding toward Calcutta. It passed under 
the Howrah Bridge and came within sight of the Botanical Garden. The captain was asked to go a 

little farther down the river. The passengers were enchanted with the Master's words, and most of 
them had no idea of time or of how far they had come. 

Keshab began to serve some puffed rice and grated coconut. The guests held these in the 
folds of their wearing-cloths and presently started to eat. Everyone was joyful. The Master noticed, 
however, that Keshab and Vijay rather shrank from each other, and he was anxious to reconcile 


MASTEIR (to Keshab): "Look here. There is Vijay. Your quarrel seems like the fight between 
Siva and Rama. Siva was Rama's s guru. Though they fought with each other, yet they soon came 
to terms. But the grimaces of the ghosts, the followers of Siva, and the gibberish of the monkeys, 
the followers of Rama, would not come to an end! (Loud laughter.) Such quarrels take place even 
among one's own kith and kin. Didn't Rama fight with His own sons, Lava and Kusa? Again, you 
must have noticed how a mother and daughter, living together and having the same spiritual end 
in view, observe their religious fast separately on Tuesdays, each on her own account-as if the 
welfare of the mother were different from the welfare of the daughter. But what benefits the one 
benefits the other. In like manner, you have a religious society, and Vijay thinks he must have one 
too. (Laughter.) But I think all these are necessary. While Sri Krishna, Himself God Incarnate, 
played with the gopis at Vrindavan, trouble-makers like Jatila and Kutila appeared on the scene. 
You may ask why. The answer is that the play does not develop without trouble-makers. (All 
laugh.) There is no fun without Jatila and Kutila. (Loud laughter.) 

Ramanuja upheld the doctrine of Qualified Non-dualism. But his guru was a pure 
non-dualist. They disagreed with each other and refuted each other's arguments. That always 
happens. Still, to the teacher the disciple is his own." 

All rejoiced in the Master's company and his words. 

MASTER (to Keshab): "You don't look into people's natures, before you make them your 
disciples, and so they break away from you. 

"All men look alike, to be sure, but they have different natures. Some have an excess of 
sattva, others an excess of rajas, and still others an excess of tamas. You must have noticed that 
the cakes known as puli all look alike. But their contents are very different. Some contain 
condensed milk, some coconut kernel, and others mere boiled kalai pulse. (All laugh) 


"Do you know my attitude? As for myself, I eat, drink, and live happily. The rest the Divine 
Mother knows. Indeed, there are three words that prick my flesh: 'guru', 'master', and 'father'. 

"There is only one Guru, and that is Satchidananda. He alone is the Teacher. My attitude 
toward God is that of a child toward its mother. One can get human gurus by the million. All 
want to be teachers. But who cares to be a disciple? 


"It is extremely difficult to teach others. A man can teach only if God reveals Himself to him 
and gives the command. Narada, Sukadeva, and sages like them had such a command from God, 
and Sankara had it too. Unless you have a command from God, who will listen to your words? 

"Don't you know how easily the people of Calcutta get excited? The milk in the kettle puffs 
up and boils as long as the fire burns underneath. Take away the fuel and all becomes quiet. The 
people of Calcutta love sensations. You may see them digging a well at a certain place. They say 
they want water. But if they strike a stone they give up that place; they begin at another place. 
And there, perchance, they find sand; they give up the second place too. Next they begin at a 
third. And so it goes. But it won't do if a man only imagines that he has God's command. 

"God does reveal Himself to man and speak. Only then may one receive His command. How 
forceful are the words of such a teacher! They can move mountains. But mere lectures? People 
will listen to them for a few days and then forget them. They will never act upon mere words. 

"At Kamarpukur there is a small lake called the Haldarpukur. Certain people used to befoul 
its banks every day. Others who came there in the morning to bathe would abuse the offenders 
loudly. But next morning they would find the same thing. The nuisance didn't stop. (All laugh.) 
The villagers finally informed the authorities about it. A constable was sent, who put up a notice 
on the bank which read: 'Commit no nuisance.' This stopped the miscreants at once. (All laugh.) 

"To teach others, one must have a badge of authority; otherwise teaching becomes a 
mockery. A man who is himself ignorant starts out to teach others-like the blind leading the blind! 
Instead of doing good, such teaching does harm. After the realization of God one obtains an inner 
vision. Only then can one diagnose a person's spiritual malady and give instruction. 

"Without the commission from God, a man becomes vain. He says to himself, 'I am teaching 
people.' This vanity comes from ignorance, for only an ignorant person feels that he is the doer. A 
man verily becomes liberated in life if he feels: 'God is the Doer. He alone is doing everything. I am 
doing nothing.' Man's sufferings and worries spring only from his persistent thought that he is the 


"You people speak of doing good to the world. Is the world such a small thing? And who are 
you, pray, to do good to the world? First realize God, see Him by means of spiritual discipline. If He 
imparts power, then you can do good to others; otherwise not." 

A BRAHMO DEVOTEE: "Then, sir, we must give up our activities until we realize God?" 

MASTER: "No. Why should you? You must engage in such activities as contemplation, 
singing His praises, and other daily devotions." 

BRAHMO: "But what about our worldly duties-duties associated with our earning money, 
and so on?" 

MASTER: "Yes, you can perform them too, but only as much as you need for your livelihood. 
At the same time, you must pray to God in solitude, with tears in your eyes, that you may be able 
to perform those duties in an unselfish manner. You should say to Him: '0 God, make my worldly 
duties fewer and fewer; otherwise, Lord, I find that I forget Thee when I am involved in too 
many activities. I may think I am doing unselfish work, but it turns out to be selfish.' People who 
carry to excess the giving of alms, or the distributing of food among the poor, fall victims to the 
desire of acquiring name and fame. 

"Sambhu Mallick once talked about establishing hospitals, dispensaries, and schools, 
making roads, digging public reservoirs, and so forth. I said to him: 'Don't go out of your way to 
look for such works. Undertake only those works that present themselves to you and are of 
pressing necessity-and those also in a spirit of detachment.' It is not good to become involved in 
many activities. That makes one forget God. Coming to the Kalighat temple, some, perhaps, spend 
their whole time in giving alms to the poor. They have no time to see the Mother in the inner 
shrine! (Laughter.) First of all manage somehow to see the image of the Divine Mother, oven by 
pushing through the crowd. Then you may or may not give alms, as you wish. You may give to the 
poor to your heart's content, if you feel that way. Work is only a means to the realization of God. 
Therefore I said to Sambhu, 'Suppose God appears before you; then will you ask Him to build 
hospitals and dispensaries for you?' (Laughter.) A lover of God never says that. He will rather say: 
'0 Lord, give me a place at Thy Lotus Feet. Keep me always in Thy company. Give me sincere and 
pure love for Thee.' 


"Karmayoga is very hard indeed. In the Kaliyuga it is extremely difficult to perform the rites 
enjoined in the scriptures. Nowadays man's life is centred on food alone. He cannot perform many 
scriptural rites. Suppose a man is laid up with fever. If you attempt a slow cure with the 
old-fashioned indigenous remedies, before long his life may be snuffed out. He can't stand much 
delay. Nowadays the drastic 'D Gupta' mixture is appropriate. In the Kaliyuga the best way is 
bhaktiyoga, the path of devotion-singing the praises of the Lord, and prayer. The path of devotion 
alone is the religion for this age. (To the Brahmo devotees) Yours also is the path of devotion. 
Blessed you are indeed that you chant the name of Hari and sing the Divine Mother's glories. I like 
your attitude. You don't call the world a dream like the non-dualists. You are not Brahmajnanis like 
them; you are bhaktas, lovers of God. That you speak of Him as a Person is also good. You are 
devotees. You will certainly realize Him if you call on Him with sincerity and earnestness." 

The boat cast anchor at Kayalaghat and the passengers prepared to disembark. On coming 
outside they noticed that the full moon was up. The trees, the buildings, and the boats on the 
Ganges were bathed in its mellow light. A carriage was hailed for the Master, and M. and a few 
devotees got in with him. The Master asked for Keshab. Presently the latter arrived and inquired 
about the arrangements made for the Master's return to Dakshineswar. Then he bowed low and 
took leave of Sri Ramakrishna. 

The carriage drove through the European quarter of the city. The Master enjoyed the sight 
of the beautiful mansions on both sides of the well lighted streets. Suddenly he said: "I am thirsty. 

What's to be done?" Nandalal, Keshab's nephew, stopped the carriage before the India Club and 
went upstairs to get some water. The Master inquired whether the glass had been well washed. 
On being assured that it had been, he drank the water. 

As the carriage went along, the Master put his head out of the window and looked with 
childlike enjoyment, at the people, the vehicles, the horses, and the streets, all flooded with 
moonlight. Now and then he heard European ladies singing at the piano. He was in a very happy 

The carriage arrived at the house of Suresh Mitra, who was a great devotee of the Master 
and whom he addressed affectionately as Surendra. He was not at home. 

The members of the household opened a room on the ground floor for the Master and his 
party. The cab fare was to be paid. Surendra would have taken care of it had he been there. The 
Master said to a devotee: "Why don't you ask the ladies to pay the fare? They certainly know that 
their master visits us at Dakshineswar. I am not a stranger to them. "(All laugh.) 

Narendra, who lived in that quarter of the city, was sent for. In the mean time Sri 
Ramakrishna and the devotees were invited to the drawing-room upstairs. The floor of the room 
was covered with a carpet and a white sheet. A few cushions were lying about. On the wall hung 
an oil painting especially painted for Surendra, in which Sri Ramakrishna was pointing out to 
Keshab the harmony of Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, and other religions. On seeing the 
picture Keshab had once said, "Blessed is the man who conceived the idea." 

Sri Ramakrishna was talking joyously with the devotees, when Narendra arrived. This made 
the Master doubly happy. He said to his young disciple, "We had a boat trip with Keshab today. 
Vijay and many other Brahmo devotees were there. (Pointing to M.) Ask him what I said to Keshab 
and Vijay about the mother and daughter observing their religious fast on Tuesdays, each on her 
own account, though the welfare of the one meant the welfare of the other. I also said to Keshab 
that trouble-makers like jatila and Kutila were necessary to lend zest to the play. (To M.) Isn't that 

M: "Yes, sir. Quite so." 

It was late. Surendra had not yet returned. The Master had to leave for the temple garden, 
and a cab was brought for him. M. and Narendra saluted him and took their leave. Sri 
Ramakrishna's carriage started for Dakshineswar through the moonlit streets. 


October 28, 1882 

IT WAS SATURDAY. The semi-annual Brahmo festival, celebrated each autumn and spring, 
was being held in Benimadhav Pal's beautiful garden house at Sinthi, about three miles north of 
Calcutta. The house stood in a secluded place suited for contemplation. Trees laden with flowers, 
artificial lakes with grassy banks, and green arbours enhanced the beauty of the grounds. Just as 
the fleecy clouds were turning gold in the light of the setting sun, the Master arrived. 

Many devotees had attended the morning devotions, and in the afternoon people from 
Calcutta and the neighbouring villages joined them. Shivanath, the great Brahmo devotee whom 
the Master loved dearly, was one of the large gathering of members of the Brahmo Samaj who had 
been eagerly awaiting Sri Ramakrishna's arrival. 

When the carriage bringing the Master and a few devotees reached the garden house, the 
assembly stood up respectfully to receive him. There was a sudden silence, like that which comes 
when the curtain in a theatre is about to be rung up. People who had been conversing with one 
another now fixed their attention on the Master's serene face, eager not to lose one word that 
might fall from his lips. 


At the sight of Shivanath the Master cried out joyously: "Ah ! Here is Shivanath ! You see, you 
are a devotee of God. The very sight of you gladdens my heart. One hemp-smoker feels very happy 
to meet another. Very often they embrace each other in an exuberance of joy." 

The devotees burst out laughing. 


MASTER: "Many people visit the temple garden at Dakshineswar. If I see some among the 
visitors indifferent to God, I say to them, 'You had better sit over there.' Or sometimes I say, 'Go 
and see the beautiful buildings.' (Laughter.) 

"Sometimes I find that the devotees of God are accompanied by worthless people. Their 
companions are immersed in gross worldliness and don't enjoy spiritual talk at all. Since the 
devotees keep on, for a long time, talking with me about God, the others become restless. Finding 
it impossible to sit there any longer, they whisper to their devotee friends: 'When shall we be 
going? How long will you stay here?' The devotees say: 'Wait a bit. We shall go after a little 
while.' Then the worldly people say in a disgusted tone: 'Well, then, you can talk. We shall wait for 
you in the boat.' (All laugh.) 


"Worldly people will never listen to you if you ask them to renounce everything and devote 
themselves whole-heartedly to God. Therefore Chaitanya and Nitai, after some deliberation, made 
an arrangement to attract the worldly. They would say to such persons, 'Come, repeat the name of 
Hari, and you shall have a delicious soup of magur fish and the embrace of a young woman.' Many 
people, attracted by the fish and the woman, would chant the name of God. After tasting a little of 
the nectar of God's hallowed name, they would soon realize that the 'fish soup' really meant the 
tears they shed for love of God, while the 'young woman' signified the earth. The embrace of the 
woman meant rolling on the ground in the rapture of divine love. 

"Nitai would employ any means to make people repeat Hari's name. Chaitanya said: 'The 
name of God has very great sanctity. It may not produce an immediate result, but one day it must 

bear fruit. It is like a seed that has been left on the cornice of a building. After many days the 
house crumbles, and the seed falls on the earth, germinates, and at last bears fruit.' 


"As worldly people are endowed with sattva, rajas, and tamas, so also is bakti characterized 
by the three gunas. 

"Do you know what a worldly person endowed with sattva is like? Perhaps his house is in a 
dilapidated condition here and there. He doesn't care to repair it. The worship hall may be strewn 
with pigeon droppings and the courtyard covered with moss, but he pays no attention to these 
things. The furniture of the house may be old; he doesn't think of polishing it and making it look 
neat. He doesn't care for dress at all; anything is good enough for him. But the man himself is very 
gentle, quiet, kind, and humble; he doesn't injure anyone. 

"Again, among the worldly there are people with the traits of rajas. Such a man has a watch 
and chain, and two or three rings on his fingers. The furniture of his house is all spick and span. 
On the walls hang portraits of the Queen, the Prince of Wales, and other prominent people; the 
building is whitewashed and spotlessly clean. His wardrobe is filled with a large assortment of 
clothes; even the servants have their livery, and all that. 

"The traits of a worldly man endowed with tamas are sleep, lust, anger, egotism, and the 



"Similarly, bhakti, devotion, has its sattva. A devotee who possesses it meditates on God in 
absolute secret, perhaps inside his mosquito net. Others think he is asleep. Since he is late in 
getting up, they think perhaps he has not slept well during the night. His love for the body goes 
only as far as appeasing his hunger, and that only by means of rice and simple greens. There is no 
elaborate arrangement about his meals, no luxury in clothes, and no display of furniture. Besides, 
such a devotee never flatters anybody for money. 

"An aspirant possessed of rajasic bhakti puts a tilak on his forehead and a necklace of holy 
rudraksha beads, interspersed with gold ones, around his neck. (All laugh.) At worship he wears a 
silk cloth. 

"A man endowed with tamasic bhakti has burning faith. Such a devotee literally extorts 
boons from God, even as a robber falls upon a man and plunders his money. 'Bind! Beat! Kill !'-that 
is his way, the way of the dacoits." 


Saying this, the Master began to sing in a voice sweet with rapturous love, his eyes turned 

Why should I go to Ganga or Gaya, to Kasi, Kanchi, or Prabhas, So long as I can breathe my 
last with Kali's name upon my lips? What need of rituals has a man, what need of devotions any 

more, If he repeats the Mother's name at the three holy hours? Rituals may pursue him close, but 
never can they overtake him. Charity, vows, and giving of gifts do not appeal to Madan's mind; The 
Blissful Mother's Lotus Feet are his whole prayer and sacrifice. Who could ever have conceived the 
power Her name possesses? Siva Himself, the God of Gods, sings Her praise with His five mouths! 

The Master was beside himself with love for the Divine Mother. He sang with fiery 

If only I can pass away repeating Durga's name, How canst Thou then, Blessed One, 
Withhold from me deliverance, Wretched though I may be? . . . 

Then he said, "One must take the firm attitude: 'What? I have chanted the Mother's name. 
How can I be a sinner any more? I am Her child, heir to Her powers and glories.' 

"If you can give a spiritual turn to your tamas, you can realize God with its help. Force your 
demands on God. He is by no means a stranger to you. He is indeed your very own. 


"Again, you see, the quality of tamas can be used for the welfare of others. There are three 
classes of physicians: superior, mediocre, and inferior. The physician who feels the patient's pulse 
and just says to him, 'Take the medicine regularly' belongs to the inferior class. He doesn't care to 
inquire whether or not the patient has actually taken the medicine. The mediocre physician is he 
who in various ways persuades the patient to take the medicine, and says to him sweetly: 'My 
good man, how will you be cured unless you use the medicine? Take this medicine. I have made 
it for you myself.' But he who, finding the patient stubbornly refusing to take the medicine, forces 
it down his throat, going so far as to put his knee on the patient's chest, is the best physician. 
This is the manifestation of the tamas of the physician. It doesn't injure the patient; on the 
contrary, it does him good. 


"Like the physicians, there are three types of religious teachers. The inferior teacher only 
gives instruction to the disciples but makes no inquiries about their progress. The mediocre 
teacher, for the good of the student, makes repeated efforts to bring the instruction home to him, 
begs him to assimilate it, and shows him love in many other ways. But there is a type of teacher 
who goes to the length of using force when he finds the student persistently unyielding; I call him 
the best teacher." 


A BRAHMO DEVOTEE: "Sir, has God forms or has He none?" 

MASTER: "No one can say with finality that God is only 'this' and nothing else. He is 
formless, and again He has forms. For the bhakta He assumes forms. But He is formless for the 
jnani, that is, for him who looks on the world as a mere dream. The bhakta feels that he is one 
entity and the world another. Therefore God reveals Himself to him as a Person. But the 
jnani-the Vedantist, for instance-always reasons, applying the process of 'Not this, not this'. 

Through this discrimination he realizes, by his inner perception, that the ego and the universe are 
both illusory, like a dream. Then the jnani realizes Brahman in his own consciousness. He cannot 
describe what Brahman is. 

"Do you know what I mean? Think of Brahman, Existence-Knowledge-Bliss Absolute, as a 
shoreless ocean. Through the cooling influence, as it were, of the bhakta's love, the water has 
frozen at places into blocks of ice. In other words, God now and then assumes various forms for 
His lovers and reveals Himself to them as a Person. But with the rising of the sun of Knowledge, 
the blocks of ice melt. Then one doesn't feel any more that God is a Person, nor does one see 
God's forms. What He is cannot be described. Who will describe Him? He who would do so 
disappears. He cannot find his T any more. 


"If one analyses oneself, one doesn't find any such thing as T. Take an onion, for instance. 
First of all you peel off the red outer skin; then you find thick white skins. Peel these off one after 
the other, and you won't find anything inside. 

"In that state a man no longer finds the existence of his ego. And who is there left to seek 
it? Who can describe how he feels in that state-in his own Pure Consciousness-about the real 
nature of Brahman? Once a salt doll went to measure the depth of the ocean. No sooner was it in 
the water than it melted. Now who was to tell the depth? 


"There is a sign of Perfect Knowledge. Man becomes silent when It is attained. Then the T, 
which may be likened to the salt doll, melts in the Ocean of Existence-Knowledge-Bliss Absolute 
and becomes one with It. Not the slightest trace of distinction is left. 

"As long as his self-analysis is not complete, man argues with much ado. But he becomes 
silent when he completes it. When the empty pitcher has been filled with water, when the water 
inside the pitcher becomes one with the water of the lake outside, no more sound is heard. 
Sound comes from the pitcher as long as the pitcher is not filled with water. 

"People used to say in olden days that no boat returns after having once entered the 'black 
waters' of the ocean. 

"All trouble and botheration come to an end when the T dies. You may indulge in 
thousands of reasoning, but still the T doesn't disappear. For people like you and me, it is good to 
have the feeling, 'lama lover of God.' 


"The Saguna Brahman is meant for the bhaktas. In other words, a bhakta believes that God 
has attributes and reveals Himself to men as a Person, assuming forms. It is He who listens to our 
prayers. The prayers that you utter are directed to Him alone. You are bhaktas, not jnanis or 
Vedantists. It doesn't matter whether you accept God with form or not. It is enough to feel that 

God is a Person who listens to our prayers, who creates, preserves, and destroys the universe, and 
who is endowed with infinite power. 

"It is easier to attain God by following the path of devotion." 

BRAHMO DEVOTEE: "Sir, is it possible for one to see God? If so, why can't we see Him?" 

MASTER: "Yes, He can surely be seen. One can see His forms, and His formless aspect as 
well. How can I explain that to you?" 


BRAHMO DEVOTEE: "What are the means by which one can see God?" MASTER: "Can you 
weep for Him with intense longing of heart? Men shed a jugful of tears for the sake of their 
children, for their wives, or for money. But who weeps for God? So long as the child remains 
engrossed with its toys, the mother looks after her cooking and other household duties. But when 
the child no longer relishes the toys, it throws them aside and yells for its mother. Then the 
mother takes the rice-pot down from the hearth, runs in haste, and takes the child in her arms." 


BRAHMO DEVOTEE: "Sir, why are there so many different opinions about the nature of 
God? Some say that God has form, while others say that He is formless. Again, those who speak of 
God with form tell us about His different forms. Why all this controversy?" 

MASTER: "A devotee thinks of God as he sees Him. In reality there is no confusion about 
God. God explains all this to the devotee if the devotee only realizes Him somehow. You haven't 
set your foot in that direction. How can you expect to know all about God? 


"Listen to a story. Once a man entered a wood and saw a small animal on a tree. He came 
back and told another man that he had seen a creature of a beautiful red colour on a certain tree. 
The second man replied: 'When I went into the wood, I also saw that animal. But why do you call it 
red? It is green.' Another man who was present contradicted them both and insisted that it was 
yellow. Presently others arrived and contended that it was grey, violet, blue, and so forth and so 
on. At last they started quarrelling among themselves. To settle the dispute they all went to the 
tree. They saw a man sitting under it. On being asked, he replied: 'Yes, I live under this tree and I 
know the animal very well. All your descriptions are true. Sometimes it appears red, sometimes 
yellow, and at other times blue, violet, grey, and so forth. It is a chameleon. And sometimes it has 
no colour at all. Now it has a colour, and now it has none.' 

"In like manner, one who constantly thinks of God can know His real nature; he alone knows 
that God reveals Himself to seekers in various forms and aspects. God has attributes; then again 
He has none. Only the man who lives under the tree knows that the chameleon can appear in 
various colours, and he knows, further, that the animal at times has no colour at all. It is the others 
who suffer from the agony of futile argument. 

"Kabir used to say, 'The formless Absolute is my Father, and God with form is my Mother.' 

"God reveals Himself in the form which His devotee loves most. His love for the devotee 
knows no bounds. It is written in the Purana that God assumed the form of Rama for His heroic 
devotee, Hanuman. 


"The forms and aspects of God disappear when one discriminates in accordance with the 
Vedanta philosophy. The ultimate conclusion of such discrimination is that Brahman alone is real 
and this world of names and forms illusory. It is possible for a man to see the forms of God, or to 
think of Him as a Person, only so long as he is conscious that he is a devotee. From the standpoint 
of discrimination this 'ego of a devotee' keeps him a little away from God. 

"Do you know why images of Krishna or Kali are three and a half cubits high? Because of 
distance. Again, on account of distance the sun appears to be small. But if you go near it you will 
find the sun so big that you won't be able to comprehend it. Why have images of Krishna and Kali a 
dark-blue colour? That too is on account of distance, like the water of a lake, which appears green, 
blue, or black from a distance. Go near, take the water in the palm of your hand, and you will find 
that it has no colour. The sky also appears blue from a distance. Go near and you will see that it 
has no colour at all. 

"Therefore I say that in the light of Vedantic reasoning Brahman has no attributes. The real 
nature of Brahman cannot be described. But so long as your individuality is real, the world also is 
real, and equally real are the different forms of God and the feeling that God is a Person. 

"Yours is the path of bhakti. That is very good; it is an easy path. Who can fully know the 
infinite God? and what need is there of knowing the Infinite? Having attained this rare human 
birth, my supreme need is to develop love for the Lotus Feet of God. 

"If a jug of water is enough to remove my thirst, why should I measure the quantity of water 
in a lake? I become drunk on even half a bottle of wine-what is the use of my calculating the 
quantity of liquor in the tavern? What need is there of knowing the Infinite? 

"The various states of mind of the Brahmajnani are described in the Vedas. The path of 
knowledge is extremely difficult. One cannot obtain jnana if one has the least trace of worldliness 
and the slightest attachment to 'woman and gold'. This is not the path for the Kaliyuga. 


"The Vedas speak of seven planes where the mind dwells. When the mind is immersed in 
worldliness it dwells in the three lower planes- at the naval, the organ of generation, and the organ 
of evacuation. In that state the mind loses all its higher visions-it broods only on 'woman and 
gold'. The fourth plane of the mind is at the heart. When the mind dwells there, one has the first 
glimpse of spiritual consciousness. One sees light all around. Such a man, perceiving the divine 
light, becomes speechless with wonder and says: 'Ah! What is this? What is this?' His mind does 
not go downward to the objects of the world. 

"The fifth plane of the mind is at the throat. When the mind reaches this, the aspirant 
becomes free from all ignorance and illusion. He does not enjoy talking or hearing about anything 
but God. If people talk about worldly things, he leaves the place at once. 

"The sixth plane is at the forehead. When the mind reaches it, the aspirant sees the form of 
God day and night. But even then a little trace of ego remains. At the sight of that incomparable 
beauty of God's form, one becomes intoxicated and rushes forth to touch and embrace it. But one 
doesn't succeed. It is like the light inside a lantern. One feels as if one could touch the light, but 
one cannot on account of the pane of glass. 

"In the top of the head is the seventh plane. When the mind rises there, one goes into 
samadhi. Then the Brahmajnani directly perceives Brahman. But in that state his body 

does not last many days. He remains unconscious of the outer world. If milk is poured into 
his mouth, it runs out. Dwelling on this plane of consciousness, he gives up his body in twenty-one 
days. That is the condition of the Brahmajnani. But yours is the path of devotion. That is a very 
good and easy path. 

"Once a man said to me, 'Sir, can you teach me quickly the thing you call samadhi?' (All 



"After a man has attained samadhi all his actions drop away. All devotional activities, such 
as worship, japa, and the like, as well as all worldly duties, cease to exist for such a person. At the 
beginning there is much ado about work. As a man makes progress toward God, the outer display 
of his work becomes less and less-so much so that he cannot even sing the name and glories of 
God. (To Shivanath) As long as you were not here at the meeting, people talked a great deal about 
you and discussed your virtues. But no sooner did you arrive here than all that stopped. Now the 
very sight of you makes everyone happy. People now simply say, 'Ah! Here is Shivanath Babu.' All 
other talk about you has stopped. 


"After attaining samadhi, I once went to the Ganges to perform tarpan. But as I took water 
in the palm of my hand, it trickled down through my fingers. Weeping, I said to Haladhari, 'Cousin, 
what is this?' Haladhari replied, 'It is called galitahasta in the holy books.' After the vision of God, 
such duties as the performance of tarpan drop away. 

"In the kirtan the devotee first sings, 'Nitai amar mata hati.' As the devotional mood 
deepens, he simply sings, 'Hati! Hati!' Next, all he can sing is 'Hati'. And last of all he simply sings, 
'Ha!' and goes into samadhi. The man who has been singing all the while then becomes speechless. 

"Again, at a feast given to the brahmins one at first hears much noise of talking. When the 
guests sit on the floor with leaf-plates in front of them, much of the noise ceases. Then one hears 
only the cry, 'Bring some luchi!' As they partake of the luchi and other dishes, three quarters of the 
noise subsides. When the curd, the last course, appears, one hears only the sound 'soop, soop' as 

the guests eat the curd with their fingers. Then there is practically no noise. Afterwards all retire to 
sleep, and absolute silence reigns. 

"Therefore I say, at the beginning of religious life a man makes much ado about work, but as 
his mind dives deeper into God, he becomes less active. Last of all comes the renunciation of work, 
followed by samadhi. 

"Generally the body does not remain alive after the attainment of samadhi. The only 
exceptions are such sages as Narada, who keep their bodies alive in order to bring spiritual light to 
others. It is also true of Divine Incarnations, like Chaitanya. After the well is dug, one generally 
throws away the spade and the basket. But some keep them 

in order to help their neighbours. The great souls who retain their bodies after samadhi feel 
compassion for the suffering of others. They are not so selfish as to be satisfied with their own 
illumination. You are well aware of the nature of selfish people. If you ask them to spit at a 
particular place, they won't, lest it should do you good. If you ask them to bring a sweetmeat 
worth a cent from the store, they will perhaps lick it on the way back. (All laugh.) 

"But the manifestations of Divine Power are different in different beings. Ordinary souls are 
afraid to teach others. A piece of worthless timber may itself somehow float across the water, but 
it sinks even under the weight of a bird. Sages like Narada are like a heavy log of wood, which not 
only floats on the water but also can carry men, cows, and even elephants. 

(To Shivanath and the other Brahmo devotees) "Can you tell me why you dwell so much on 
the powers and glories of God? I asked the same thing of Keshab Sen. One day Keshab and his 
party came to the temple garden at Dakshineswar. I told them I wanted to hear how they lectured. 
A meeting was arranged in the paved courtyard above the bathing-ghat on the Ganges, where 
Keshab gave a talk. He spoke very well. I went into a trance. After the lecture I said to Keshab, 
'Why do you so often say such things as: "0 God, what beautiful flowers Thou hast made! God, 
Thou hast created the heavens, the stars, and the ocean!" and so on?' Those who love splendour 
themselves are fond of dwelling on God's splendour. 

"Once a thief stole the jewels from the images in the temple of Radhakanta. Mathur Babu 
entered the temple and said to the Deity: 'What a shame, God! You couldn't save Your own 
ornaments.' 'The idea!' I said to Mathur. 'Does He who has Lakshmi for His handmaid and 
attendant ever lack any splendour? Those jewels may be precious to you, but to God they are no 
better than lumps of clay. Shame on you! You shouldn't have spoken so meanly. 'What riches 
can you give to God to magnify His glory?' 

"Therefore I say, a man seeks the person in whom he finds joy. What need has he to ask 
where that person lives, the number of his houses, gardens, relatives, and servants, or the amount 
of his wealth? I forget everything when I see Narendra. Never, even unwittingly, have I asked him 
where he lived, what his father's profession was, or the number of his brothers. 

"Dive deep in the sweetness of God's Bliss. What need have we of His infinite creation and 
unlimited glory?" 

The Master sang: 

Dive deep, mind, dive deep in the Ocean of God's Beauty; If you descend to the uttermost 
depths, There you will find the gem of Love. 

Go seek, mind, go seek Vrindavan in your heart, Where with His loving devotees Sri 
Krishna sports eternally. 

Light up, mind, light up true wisdom's shining lamp, And let it burn with steady flame 
Unceasingly within your heart. 

Who is it that steers your boat across the solid earth? It is your guru, says Kubir; Meditate 
on his holy feet. 

Sri Ramakrishna continued: "It is also true that after the vision of God the devotee desires 
to witness His lila. After the destruction of Ravana at Rama's hands, Nikasha, Ravana's mother, 
began to run away for fear of her life. Lakshmana said to Rama: 'Revered Brother, please explain 
this strange thing to me. This Nikasha is an old woman who has suffered a great deal from the loss 
of her many sons, and yet she is so afraid of losing her own life that she is taking to her heels!' 
Rama bade her come near, gave her assurance of safety, and asked her why she was running away. 
Nikasha answered: '0 Rama, I am able to witness all this lila of Yours because I am still alive. I want 
to live longer so that I may see the many more things You will do on this earth.' (All laugh.) 

(To Shivanath) "I like to see you. How can I live unless I see pure-souled devotees? I feel as if 
they had been my friends in a former incarnation." 


A BRAHMO DEVOTEE: "Sir, do you believe in the reincarnation of the soul?" MASTER: "Yes, 
they say there is something like that. How can we understand the ways of God through our small 
intellects? Many people have spoken about reincarnation; therefore I cannot disbelieve it. As 
Bhishma lay dying on his bed of arrows, the Pandava brothers and Krishna stood around him. 
They saw tears flowing from the eyes of the great hero. Arjuna said to Krishna: 'Friend, how 
surprising it is! Even such a man as our grandsire Bhishma-truthful, self-restrained, supremely 
wise, and one of the eight Vasusweeps, through maya, at the hour of death.' Sri Krishna asked 
Bhishma about it. Bhishma replied: '0 Krishna, You know very well that this is not the cause of my 
grief. I am thinking that there is no end to the Pandavas' sufferings, though God Himself is their 
charioteer.7 A thought like this makes me feel that I have understood nothing of the ways of God, 
and so I weep.' " 

It was about half past eight when the evening worship began in the prayer hall. Soon the 
moon rose in the autumn sky and flooded the trees and creepers of the garden with its light. After 
prayer the devotees began to sing. Sri Ramakrishna was dancing, intoxicated with love of God. The 
Brahmo devotees danced around him to the accompaniment of drums and cymbals. All appeared 
to be in a very joyous mood. The place echoed and re-echoed with God's holy name. When the 
music had stopped, Sri Ramakrishna prostrated himself on the ground and, making salutations to 
the Divine Mother again and again, said: "Bhagavata-Bhakta-Bhagavan! My salutations at the feet 

of the jnanis! My salutations at the feet of the bhaktas! I salute the bhaktas who believe in God 
with form, and I salute the bhaktas who believe in God without form. I salute the knowers of 
Brahman of olden times. And my salutations at the feet of the modern knowers of Brahman of the 
Brahmo Samaj!" 

Then the Master and the devotees enjoyed a supper of delicious dishes, which Benimadhav, 
their host, had provided. 

Wednesday, November 15, 1882 Master at the circus 

Sri Ramakrishna, accompanied by Rakhal and several other devotees, came to Calcutta in a 
carriage and called for M. at the school where he was teaching. Then they all set out for the 
Maidan. Sri Ramakrishna wanted to see the Wilson Circus. As the carriage rolled along the 
crowded Chitpore Road, his joy was very great. Like a little child he leaned first out of one side of 
the carriage and then out of the other, talking to himself as if addressing the passers-by. To M. he 
said: "I find the attention of the people fixed on earthly things. They are all rushing about for the 
sake of their stomachs. No one is thinking of God." 

They arrived at the circus. Tickets for the cheapest seats were purchased. The devotees 
took the Master to a high gallery, and they all sat on a bench. He said joyfully: "Ha! This is a good 
place. I can see the show well from here." There were exhibitions of various feats. A horse raced 
around a circular track over which large iron rings were hung at intervals. The circus rider, an 
Englishwoman, stood on one foot on the horse's back, and as the horse passed under the rings, 
she jumped through them, always alighting on one foot on the horse's back. The horse raced 
around the entire circle, and the woman never missed the horse or lost her balance. 

When the circus was over, the Master and the devotees stood outside in the field, near the 
carriage. Since it was a cold night he covered his body with his green shawl. 


Sri Ramakrishna said to M.: "Did you see how that Englishwoman stood on one foot on her 
horse, while it ran like lightning? How difficult a feat that must be! She must have practised a long 
time. The slightest carelessness and she would break her arms or legs; she might even be killed. 
One faces the same difficulty leading the life of a householder. A few succeed in it through the 
grace of God and as a result of their spiritual practice. But most people fail. Entering the world, 
they become more and more involved in it; they drown in worldliness and suffer the agonies of 
death. A few only, like Janaka, have succeeded, through the power of their austerity, in leading the 
spiritual life as householders. Therefore spiritual practice is extremely necessary; otherwise one 
cannot rightly live in the world." 

The Master got into the carriage with the devotees and went to Balaram Bose's house. He 
was taken with his companions to the second floor. It was evening and the lamps were lighted. The 
Master described the feats he had seen at the circus. Gradually other devotees gathered, and soon 
he was engaged in spiritual talk with them. 


The conversation turned to the caste-system. Sri Ramakrishna said: "The caste-system can 
be removed by one means only, and that is the love of God. Lovers of God do not belong to any 
caste. The mind, body, and soul of a man become purified through divine love. Chaitanya and 
Nityananda scattered the name of Hari to everyone, including the pariah, and embraced them all. 
A brahmin without this love is no longer a brahmin. And a pariah with the love of God is no longer 
a pariah. Through bhakti an untouchable becomes pure and elevated." 


Speaking of householders entangled in worldliness, the Master said: "They are like the 
silk-worm. They can come out of the cocoon of their worldly life if they wish. But they can't bear 
to; for they themselves have built the cocoon with great love and care. So they die there. Or they 
are like the fish in a trap. They can come out of it by the way they entered, but they sport inside 
the trap with other fish and hear the sweet sound of the murmuring water and forget everything 
else. They don't even make an effort to free themselves from the trap. The lisping of children is 
the murmur of the water; and the other fish are relatives and friends. Only one or two make good 
their escape by running away. They are the liberated souls." 

The Master then sang: 

When such delusion veils the world, through Mahamaya's spell, That Brahma is bereft of 
sense, And Vishnu loses consciousness, What hope is left for men? 

The narrow channel first is made, and there the trap is set; But open though the passage 
lies, the fish, once safely through the gate, do not come out again. 

The silk-worm patiently prepares its closely spun cocoon; yet even though a way leads 
forth, Encased within its own cocoon, The worm remains to die. 

The Master continued: "Man may be likened to grain. He has fallen between the millstones 
and is about to be crushed. Only the few grains that stay near the peg escape. Therefore men 
should take refuge at the peg, that is to say, in God. Call on Him. Sing His name. Then you will be 
free. Otherwise you will be crushed by the King of Death." 

The Master sang again: 

Mother! Mother! My boat is sinking, here in the ocean of this world; fiercely the hurricane 
of delusion rages on every side! 

Clumsy is my helmsman, the mind; stubborn my six oarsmen, the passions; into a pitiless 
wind I sailed my boat, and now it is sinking! Split is the rudder of devotion; tattered is the sail of 
faith; into my boat the waters are pouring! Tell me, what shall I do? For with my failing eyes, alas! 
nothing but darkness do I see. Here in the waves I will swim, Mother, and cling to the raft of Thy 

Mr. Viswas had been sitting in the room a long time; he now left. He had once been wealthy 
but had squandered everything in an immoral life. Finally he had become indifferent to his wife 

and children. Referring to Mr. Viswas, the Master said: "He is an unfortunate wretch. A 
householder has his duties to discharge, his debts to pay: his debt to the gods, his debt to his 
ancestors, his debt to the rishis, and his debt to wife and children. If a wife is chaste, then her 
husband should support her; he should also bring up their children until they are of age. Only a 
monk must not save; the bird and the monk do not provide for the morrow. But even a bird 
provides when it has young. It brings food in its bill for its chicks." 

BALARAM: "Mr. Viswas now wants to cultivate the company of holy people." 

MASTER (with a smile): "A monk's kamandalu goes to the four principal holy places with 
him, but it still tastes bitter. Likewise, it is said that the Malaya breeze turns all trees into 
sandal-wood. But there are a few exceptions, such as the cotton-tree, the Aswattha, and the hog 

"Some frequent the company of holy men in order to smoke hemp. Many monks smoke it, 
and these householders stay with them, prepare the hemp, and partake of the prasad." 

Thursday, November 16, 1882 

The Master had come to Calcutta. In the evening he went to the house of Rajmohan, a 
member of the Brahmo Samaj, where Narendra and some of his young friends used to meet and 
worship according to the Brahmo ceremonies. Sri Ramakrishna wanted to see their worship. He 
was accompanied by M. and a few other devotees. 

The Master was very happy to see Narendra and expressed a desire to watch the young 
men at their worship. Narendra sang and then the worship began. One of the young men 
conducted it. He prayed, "0 Lord, may we give up everything and be absorbed in Thee!" Possibly 
the youth was inspired by the Master's presence and so talked of utter renunciation. Sri 
Ramakrishna remarked in a whisper, "Much likelihood there is of that!" Rajmohan served the 
Master with refreshments. 

Sunday, November 19, 1882 

It was the auspicious occasion of the Jagaddhatri Puja, the festival of the Divine Mother. Sri 
Ramakrishna was invited to Surendra's house in Calcutta; but first he went to the house of 
Manomohan in the neighbourhood. 

The Master was seated in Manomohan's parlour. He said: "God very much relishes the 
bhakti of the poor and the lowly, just as the cow relishes fodder mixed with oil-cake. King 
Duryodhana showed Krishna the splendour of his wealth and riches, but Krishna accepted the 
hospitality of the poor Vidura. God is fond of His devotees. He runs after the devotee as the cow 
after the calf." 

The Master sang: 

And, for that love, the mighty yogis practise yoga from age to age; when love awakes, the 
Lord, like a magnet, draws to Him the soul. 

Then he said: "Chaitanya used to shed tears of joy at the very mention of Krishna's name. 
God alone is the real Substance; all else is illusory. Man can realize God if he wants to, but he 
madly craves the enjoyment of 'woman and gold'. The snake has a precious stone in its head, but it 
is perfectly satisfied to eat a mere frog. 

"Bhakti is the one essential thing. Who can ever know God through reasoning? I want love 
of God. What do I care about knowing His infinite glories? One bottle of wine makes me drunk. 
What do I care about knowing how many gallons there are in the grog-shop? One jar of water is 
enough to quench my thirst. I don't need to know the amount of water there is on earth." 

Sri Ramakrishna arrived at Surendra's house. Many devotees had assembled there, 
including Surendra's elder brother, who was a judge. 


MASTER (To Surendra's brother): "You are a judge. That is very good. But remember, 
everything happens through God's power. It is He who has given you your high position; that is 
how you became a judge. People think it is they who are great. The water from the roof flows 
through a spout that is shaped like a lion's head. It looks as if the lion were bringing the water out 
through its mouth. But look at the source of the water! A cloud gathers in the sky and rain falls on 
the roof; then the water flows through the pipe and at last comes out through the spout." 

SURENDRA'S BROTHER: "The Brahmo Samaj preaches the freedom of women and the 
abolition of the caste-system. What do you think about these matters?" 

MASTER: "Men feel that way when they are just beginning to develop spiritual yearning. A 
storm raises clouds of dust, and one cannot distinguish between the different trees-the mango, 
the hog plum, and the tamarind. But after the storm blows over, one sees clearly. After the first 
storm of divine passion is quelled, one gradually understands that 

God alone is the Highest Good, the Eternal Substance, and that all else is transitory. One 
cannot grasp this without tapasya and the company of holy men. What is the use of merely 
reciting the written parts for the drum? It is very difficult to put them into practice on the 
instrument. What can be accomplished by a mere lecture? It is austerity that is necessary. By that 
alone can one comprehend. 

"You asked about caste distinctions. There is only one way to remove them, and that is by 
love of God. Lovers of God have no caste. Through this divine love the untouchable becomes pure, 
the pariah no longer remains a pariah. Chaitanya embraced all, including the pariahs. 

"The members of the Brahmo Samaj sing the name of Hari. That is very good. Through 
earnest prayer one receives the grace of God and realizes Him. God can be realized by means of all 
paths. The same God is invoked by different names." 


SURENDRA'S BROTHER: "Sir, what do you think of Theosophy?" 

MASTER: "I have heard that man can acquire superhuman powers through it and perform 
miracles. I saw a man who had brought a ghost under control. The ghost used to procure various 
things for his master. What shall I do with superhuman powers? Can one realize God through 
them? If God is not realized then everything becomes false." 

November 1882 

It was about four o'clock in the afternoon when Sri Ramakrishna arrived in Calcutta to 
attend the annual festival of the Brahmo Samaj, which was to be celebrated at Manilal Mallick's 
house. Besides M. and other devotees of the Master, Vijay Goswami and a number of Brahmos 
were present. Elaborate arrangements had been made to make the occasion a success. Vijay was 
to conduct the worship. 

The kathak recited the life of Prahlada from the Purana. Its substance was as follows: 
Hiranyakasipu, Prahlada's father, was king of the demons. He bore great malice toward God and 
put his own son through endless tortures for leading a religious life. Afflicted by his father, 
Prahlada prayed to God, "0 God, please give my father holy inclinations." 

At these words the Master wept. He went into an ecstatic mood. Afterwards he began to 
talk to the devotees. 

MASTER: "Bhakti is the only essential thing. One obtains love of God by constantly chanting 
His name and singing His glories. Ah! What a devotee Shivanath is! He is soaked in the love of God, 
like a cheese-cake in syrup. 

"One should not think, 'My religion alone is the right path and other religions are false.' God 
can be realized by means of all paths. It is enough to have sincere yearning for God. Infinite are the 
paths and infinite the opinions. 


"Let me tell you one thing. God can be seen. The Vedas say that God is beyond mind and 
speech. The meaning of this is that God is unknown to the mind attached to worldly objects. 
Vaishnavcharan used to say, 'God is known by the mind and intellect that are pure.' Therefore it is 
necessary to seek the company of holy men, practise prayer, and listen to the instruction of the 
guru. These purify the mind. Then one sees God. Dirt can be removed from water by a purifying 
agent. Then one sees one's reflection in it. One cannot see one's face in a mirror if the mirror is 
covered with dirt. 

"After the purification of the heart one obtains divine love. Then one sees God, through His 
grace. One can teach others if one receives that command from God after seeing Him. Before that 
one should not 'lecture'. There is a song that says: 

You have set up no image here, within the shrine, fool! Blowing the conch, you simply 
make Confusion worse confounded. 

"You should first cleanse the shrine of your heart. Then you should install the Deity and 
arrange worship. As yet nothing has been done. What can you achieve by blowing the conch-shell 
and simply making a loud noise?" 

Vijay sat on a raised stool and conducted the worship according to the rules of the Brahmo 
Samaj. Afterwards he sat by the Master. 

MASTER (to Vijay): "Will you tell me one thing? Why did you harp so much on sin? By 
repeating a hundred times, 'I am a sinner', one verily becomes a sinner. One should have such faith 
as to be able to say, 'What? I have taken the name of God; how can I be a sinner?' God is our 
Father and Mother. Tell Him, '0 Lord, I have committed sins, but I won't repeat them.' Chant His 
name and purify your body and mind. Purify your tongue by singing God's holy name." 

December 1882 

In the afternoon Sri Ramakrishna was seated on the west porch of his room in the temple 
garden at Dakshineswar. Among others, Baburam, Ramdayal, and M. were present. These three 
were going to spend the night with the Master. M. intended to stay the following day also, for he 
was having his Christmas holidays. Baburam had only recently begun to visit the Master. 

MASTER (to the devotees): "A man becomes liberated even in this life when he knows that 
God is the Doer of all things. Once Keshab came here with Sambhu Mallick. I said to him, 'Not even 
a leaf moves except by the will of God.' Where is man's free will? All are under the will of God. 
Nangta was a man of great knowledge, yet even he was about to drown himself in the Ganges. He 
stayed here eleven months. At one time he suffered from stomach trouble. The excruciating pain 
made him lose control over himself, and he wanted to drown himself in the river. There was a long 
shoal near the bathing-ghat. However far he went into the river, he couldn't find water above his 
knees. Then he understood everything and came back. At one time I was very ill and was about to 
cut my throat with a knife. Therefore I say: '0 Mother, I am the machine and Thou art the 
Operator; I am the chariot and Thou art the Driver. I move as Thou movest me; I do as Thou 
makest me do.' " 

The devotees sing kirtan in the Master's room: 

Dwell, Lord, Lover of bhakti, In the Vrindavan of my heart, And my devotion unto Thee 
Will be Thy Radha, dearly loved; My body will be Nanda's home, My tenderness will be Yasoda, My 
longing for deliverance Will be Thy gentle gopi maids. Lift the Govardhan of my sin And slay my six 
unyielding passions, Fierce as the demons sent by Kamsa! Sweetly play the flute of Thy grace, 
Charming the milch cow of my mind; Abide in the pasture of my soul. Dwell by the Jamuna of my 
yearning, under the banyan of my hope, For ever gracious to Thy servant; And, if naught but the 
cowherds' love can hold Thee in Vrindavan's vale, Then, Lord, let Dasarathi, too, Become Thy 
cowherd and Thy slave. 

Again they sang: 

Sing, bird that nestles deep within my heart! Sing, bird that sits on the Kalpa-Tree of 
Brahman ! Sing God's everlasting praise. Taste, bird, of the four fruits of the Kalpa-Tree, Dharma, 

artha, kama, moksha. Sing, bird, "He alone is the Comfort of my soul!" Sing, bird, "He alone is 
my life's enduring Joy!" thou wondrous bird of my life, Sing aloud in my heart! Unceasingly sing, 
bird! Sing for evermore, even as the thirsty chatak sings for the raindrop from the cloud. 

A devotee from Nandanbagan entered the room with his friends. The Master looked at him 
and said, "Everything inside him can be seen through his eyes, as one sees the objects in a room 
through a glass door." This devotee and his brothers always celebrated the anniversary of the 
Brahmo Samaj at their house in Nandanbagan. Sri Ramakrishna had taken part in these festivals. 

The evening worship began in the temples. The Master was seated on the small couch in his 
room, absorbed in meditation. He went into an ecstatic mood and said a little later: "Mother, 
please draw him to Thee. He is so modest and humble! He has been visiting Thee." Was the Master 
referring to Baburam, who later became one of his foremost disciples? 

Why so much suffering in God's creation? 

The Master explained the different kinds of samadhi to the devotees. The conversation then 
turned to the joy and suffering of life. Why did God create so much suffering? 

M: "Once Vidyasagar said in a mood of pique: 'What is the use of calling on God? Just think 
of this incident: At one time Chenghiz Khan plundered a country and imprisoned many people. The 
number of prisoners rose to about a hundred thousand. The commander of his army said to him: 
"Your Majesty, who will feed them? It is risky to keep them with us. It will be equally dangerous to 
release them. What shall I do?" Chenghiz Khan said: "That's true. What can be done? Well, have 
them killed." The order was accordingly given to cut them to pieces. Now, God saw this slaughter, 
didn't He? But He didn't stop it in any way. Therefore I don't need God, whether He exists or not. I 
don't derive any good from Him.'" 

MASTER: "Is it possible to understand God's action and His motive? He creates, He 
preserves, and He destroys. Can we ever understand why He destroys? I say to the Divine Mother: 
'0 Mother, I do not need to understand. Please give me love for Thy Lotus Feet.' The aim of human 
life is to attain bhakti. As for other things, the Mother knows best. I have come to the garden to 
eat mangoes. What is the use of my calculating the number of trees, branches, and leaves? I only 
eat the mangoes; I don't need to know the number of trees and leaves." 

Baburam, M., and Ramdayal slept that night on the floor of the Master's room. 

It was an early hour of the morning, about two or three o'clock. The room was dark. Sri 
Ramakrishna was seated on his bed and now and then conversed with the devotees. 


MASTER: "Remember that daya, compassion, and maya, attachment, are two different 
things. Attachment means the feeling of 'my-ness' toward one's relatives. It is the love one feels 
for one's parents, one's brother, one's sister, one's wife and children. Compassion is the love one 
feels for all beings of the world. It is an attitude of equality. If you see anywhere an instance of 
compassion, as in Vidyasagar, know that it is due to the grace of God. Through compassion one 
serves all beings. Maya also comes from God. Through maya God makes one serve one's relatives. 

But one thing should be remembered: maya keeps us in ignorance and entangles us in the world, 
whereas daya makes our hearts pure and gradually unties our bonds. 

"God cannot be realized without purity of heart. One receives the grace of God by subduing 
the passions-lust, anger, and greed. Then one sees God. I tried many things in order to conquer 

"When I was ten or eleven years old and lived at Kamarpukur, I first experienced samadhi. 
As I was passing through a paddy-field, I saw something and was overwhelmed. There are certain 
characteristics of God-vision. One sees light, feels joy, and experiences the upsurge of a great 
current in one's chest, like the bursting of a rocket." 

The next day Baburam and Ramdayal returned to Calcutta. M. spent the day and the night 
with the Master. 

December 1882 

It was afternoon. The Master was sitting in his room at Dakshineswar with M. and one or 
two other devotees. Several Marwari devotees arrived and saluted the Master. They requested Sri 
Ramakrishna to give them spiritual instruction. He smiled. 

MASTER (to the Marwari devotees): "You see, the feeling of T and 'mine' is the result of 
ignorance. But to say, '0 God, Thou art the Doer; all these belong to Thee' is the sign of 
Knowledge. How can you say such a thing as 'mine'? The superintendent of the garden says, 'This 
is my garden.' But if he is dismissed because of some misconduct, then he does not have the 
courage to take away even such a worthless thing as his mango-wood box. Anger and lust cannot 
be destroyed. Turn them toward God. If you must feel desire and temptation, then desire to 
realize God, feel tempted by Him. Discriminate and turn the passions away from worldly objects. 
When the elephant is about to devour a plaintain-tree in someone's garden, the mahut strikes it 
with his iron-tipped goad. 

"You are merchants. You know how to improve your business gradually. Some of you start 
with a castor-oil factory. After making some money at that, you open a cloth shop. In the same 
way, one makes progress toward God. It may be that you go into solitude, now and then, and 
devote more time to prayer. 

"But you must remember that nothing can be achieved except in its proper time. Some 
persons must pass through many experiences and perform many worldly duties before they can 
turn their attention to God; so they have to wait a long time. If an abscess is lanced before it is 
soft, the result is not good; the surgeon makes the opening when it is soft and has come to a head. 
Once a child said to its mother: 'Mother, I am going to sleep now. Please wake me up when I feel 
the call of nature.' 'My child,' said the mother, 'when it is time for that, you will wake up yourself. I 
shan't have to wake you.' " 

The Marwari devotees generally brought offerings of fruit, candy, and other sweets for the 
Master. But Sri Ramakrishna could hardly eat them. He would say: "They earn their money by 
falsehood. I can't eat their offerings." He said to the Marwaris: "You see, one can't strictly adhere 

to truth in business. There are ups and downs in business. Nanak once said, 'I was about to eat the 
food of unholy people, when I found it stained with blood.' A man should offer only pure things to 
holy men. He shouldn't give them food earned by dishonest means. God is realized by following 
the path of truth. One should always chant His name. Even while one is performing one's duties, 
the mind should be left with God. Suppose I have a carbuncle on my back. I perform my duties, but 
the mind is drawn to the carbuncle. It is good to repeat the name of Rama. 'The same Rama who 
was the son of King Dasaratha has created this world. Again, as Spirit, He pervades all beings. He is 
very near us; He is both within and without.' " 


Thursday, December 14, 1882 

IT WAS AFTERNOON. Sri Ramakrishna was sitting on his bed after a short noonday rest. 
Vijay, Balaram, M., and a few other devotees were sitting on the floor with their faces toward the 
Master. They could see the sacred river Ganges through the door. Since it was winter all were 
wrapped up in warm clothes. Vijay had been suffering from colic and had brought some medicine 
with him. 


Vijay was a paid preacher in the Sadharan Brahmo Samaj, but there were many things about 
which he could not agree with the Samaj authorities. He came from a very noble family of Bengal 
noted for its piety and other spiritual qualities. Advaita Goswami, one of his remote ancestors, had 
been an intimate companion of Sri Chaitanya. Thus the blood of a great lover of God flowed in 
Vijay's veins. As an adherent of the Brahmo Samaj, Vijay no doubt meditated on the formless 
Brahman; but his innate love of God, inherited from his distinguished ancestors, had merely been 
waiting for the proper time to manifest itself in all its sweetness. Thus Vijay was irresistibly 
attracted by the God-intoxicated state of Sri Ramakrishna and often sought his company. He would 
listen to the Master's words with great respect, and they would dance together in an ecstasy of 
divine love. 

It was a week-day. Generally devotees came to the Master in large numbers on Sundays; 
hence those who wanted to have intimate talks with him visited him on weekdays. 


A boy named Vishnu, living in Ariadaha, had recently committed suicide by cutting his 
throat with a razor. The talk turned to him. 

MASTER: "I felt very badly when I heard of the boy's passing away. He was a pupil in a 
school and he used to come here. He would often say to me that he couldn't enjoy worldly life. He 
had lived with some relatives in the western provinces and at that time used to meditate in 
solitude, in the meadows, hills, and forests. He told me he had visions of many divine forms. 

"Perhaps this was his last birth. He must have finished most of his duties in his previous 
birth. The little that had been left undone was perhaps finished in this one. 

"One must admit the existence of tendencies inherited from previous births. There is a story 
about a man who practised the sava-sadhana.l He worshipped the Divine Mother in 

a deep forest. First he saw many terrible visions. Finally a tiger attacked and killed him. 
Another man, happening to pass and seeing the approach of the tiger, had climbed a tree. 
Afterwards he got down and found all the arrangements for worship at hand. He performed some 
purifying ceremonies and seated himself on the corpse. No sooner had he done a little japa than 
the Divine Mother appeared before him and said: 'My child, I am very much pleased with you. 
Accept a boon from Me.' He bowed low at the Lotus Feet of the Goddess and said: 'May I ask You 
one question, Mother? I am speechless with amazement at Your action. The other man worked so 
hard to get the ingredients for Your worship and tried to propitiate You for such a long time, but 
You didn't condescend to show him Your favour. And I, who don't know anything of worship, who 
have done nothing, who have neither devotion nor knowledge nor love, and who haven't practised 
any austerities, am receiving so much of Your grace.' The Divine Mother said with a laugh: 'My 
child, you don't remember your previous births. For many births you tried to propitiate Me 
through austerities. As a result of those austerities all these things have come to hand, and you 
have been blessed with My Vision. Now ask Me your boon.' " 


A DEVOTEE: "I am frightened to hear of the suicide." MASTER: "Suicide is a heinous sin, 
undoubtedly. A man who kills himself must return again and again to this world and suffer its 

"But I don't call it suicide if a person leaves his body after having the vision of God. There is 
no harm in giving up one's body that way. After attaining Knowledge some people give up their 
bodies. After the gold image has been cast in the clay mould, you may either preserve the mould 
or break it. 

"Many years ago a young man of about twenty used to come to the temple garden from 
Baranagore; his name was Gopal Sen. In my presence he used to experience such intense ecstasy 
that Hriday had to support him for fear he might fall to the ground and break his limbs. That young 
man touched my feet one day and said: 'Sir, I shall not be able to see you any more. Let me bid you 
good-bye.' A few days later I learnt that he had given up his body. 


"It is said that there are four classes of human beings: the bound, those aspiring after 
liberation, the liberated, and the ever-perfect. 


"This world is like a fishing-net. Men are the fish, and God, whose maya has created this 
world, is the fisherman. When the fish are entangled in the net, some of them try to tear through 
its meshes in order to get their liberation. They are like the men striving after liberation. But by no 
means all of them escape. Only a few jump out of the net with a loud splash, and then people say, 
'Ah! There goes a big one!' In like manner, three or four men attain liberation. Again, some fish are 

so careful by nature that they are never caught in the net; some beings of the ever-perfect class, 
like Narada, are never entangled in the meshes of worldliness. Most of the fish are trapped; but 
they are not conscious of the net and of their imminent death. No sooner are they entangled than 
they run headlong, net and all, trying to hide themselves in the mud. They don't make the least 
effort to get free. On the contrary, they go deeper and deeper into the mud. These fish are like the 
bound men. They are still inside the net, but they think they are quite safe there. A bound creature 
is immersed in worldliness, in 'woman and gold', having gone deep into the mire of degradation. 
But still he believes he is quite happy and secure. The liberated, and the seekers after liberation, 
look on the world as a deep well. They do not enjoy it. Therefore, after the attainment of 
Knowledge, the realization of God, some give up their bodies. But such a thing is rare indeed. 


"The bound creatures, entangled in worldliness, will not come to their senses at all. They 
suffer so much misery and agony, they face so many dangers, and yet they will not wake up. 

"The camel loves to eat thorny bushes. The more it eats the thorns, the more the blood 
gushes from its mouth. Still it must eat thorny plants and will never give them up. The man of 
worldly nature suffers so much sorrow and affliction, but he forgets it all in a few days and begins 
his old life over again. Suppose a man has lost his wife or she has turned unfaithful. Lo! He marries 

"Or take the instance of a mother: her son dies and she suffers bitter grief; but after a few 
days she forgets all about it. The mother, so overwhelmed with sorrow a few days before, now 
attends to her toilet and puts on her jewelry. A father becomes bankrupt through the marriage of 
his daughters, yet he goes on having children year after year. People are ruined by litigation, yet 
they go to court all the same. There are men who cannot feed the children they have, who cannot 
clothe them or provide decent shelter for them; yet they have more children every year. 

"Again, the worldly man is like a snake trying to swallow a mole. The snake can neither 
swallow the mole nor give it up. The bound soul may have realized that there is no substance to 
the world-that the world is like a hog plum, only stone and skin-but still he cannot give it up and 
turn his mind to God. 

"I once met a relative of Keshab Sen, fifty years old. He was playing cards. As if the time had 
not yet come for him to think of God! 

"There is another characteristic of the bound soul. If you remove him from his worldly 
surroundings to a spiritual environment, he will pine away. The worm that grows in filth feels very 
happy there. It thrives in filth. It will die if you put it in a pot of rice." 

All remained silent. 


VIJAY: "What must the bound soul's condition of mind be in order to achieve liberation?" 

MASTER: "He can free himself from attachment to 'woman and gold' if, by the grace of God, 
he cultivates a spirit of strong renunciation. What is this strong renunciation? One who has only a 
mild spirit of renunciation says, 'Well, all will happen in the course of time; let me now simply 
repeat the name of God.' But a man possessed of a strong spirit of renunciation feels restless for 
God, as the mother feels for her own child. A man of strong renunciation seeks nothing but God. 
He regards the world as a deep well and feels as if he were going to be drowned in it. He looks on 
his relatives as venomous snakes; he wants to fly away from them. And he does go away. He never 
thinks, 'Let me first make some arrangement for my family and then I shall think of God.' He has 
great inward resolution. 


"Let me tell you a story about strong renunciation. At one time there was a drought in a 
certain part of the country. The farmers began to cut long channels to bring water to their fields. 
One farmer was stubbornly determined. He took a vow that he would not stop digging until the 
channel connected his field with the river. He set to work. The time came for his bath, and his wife 
sent their daughter to him with oil. 'Father,' said the girl, 'it is already late. Rub your body with oil 
and take your bath.' 'Go away!' thundered the farmer. 'I have too much to do now.' It was past 
midday, and the farmer was still at work in his field. He didn't even think of his bath. Then his wife 
came and said: 'Why haven't you taken your bath? The food is getting cold. You overdo everything. 
You can finish the rest tomorrow or even today after dinner.' The farmer scolded her furiously and 
ran at her, spade in hand, crying: 'What? Have you no sense? There's no rain. The crops are dying. 
What will the children eat? You'll all starve to death. I have taken a vow not to think of bath and 
food today before I bring water to my field.' The wife saw his state of mind and ran away in fear. 
Through a whole day's back-breaking labour the farmer managed by evening to connect his field 
with the river. Then he sat down and watched the water flowing into his field with a murmuring 
sound. His mind was filled with peace and joy. He went home, called his wife, and said to her, 
'Now give me some oil and prepare me a smoke.' With serene mind he finished his bath and meal, 
and retired to bed, where he snored to his heart's content. The determination he showed is an 
example of strong renunciation. 

"Now, there was another farmer who was also digging a channel to bring water to his field. 
His wife, too, came to the field and said to him: 'It's very late. Come home. It isn't necessary to 
overdo things.' The farmer didn't protest much, but put aside his spade and said to his wife, 'Well, 
I'll go home since you ask me to.' (All laugh) That man never succeeded in irrigating his field. This is 
a case of mild renunciation. 

"As without strong determination the farmer cannot bring water to his field, so also without 
intense yearning a man cannot realize God. (To Vijay) Why don't you come here now as frequently 
as before?" 

VIJAY: "Sir, I wish to very much, but I am not free. I have accepted work in the Brahmo 


MASTER: "It is 'woman and gold' that binds man and robs him of his freedom. It is woman 
that creates the need for gold. For woman one man becomes the slave of another, and so loses his 
freedom. Then he cannot act as he likes. 


"The priests in the temple of Govindaji at Jaipur were celibates at first, and at that time they 
had fiery natures. Once the King of Jaipur sent for them, but they didn't obey him. They said to the 
messenger, 'Ask the king to come to see us.' After consultation, the king and his ministers arranged 
marriages for them. From then on the king didn't have to send for them. They would come to him 
of themselves and say: 'Your Majesty, we have come with our blessings. Here are the sacred 
flowers of the temple. Deign to accept them.' They came to the palace, for now they always 
wanted money for one thing or another: the building of a house, the rice-taking ceremony of their 
babies, or the rituals connected with the beginning of their children's education. 


"There is the story of the twelve hundred nedas and thirteen hundred nedis. Virabhadra, 
the son of Nityananda Goswami, had thirteen hundred 'shaven-headed' disciples. They attained 
great spiritual powers. That alarmed their teacher. 'My disciples have acquired great spiritual 
powers', thought Virabhadra. 'Whatever they say to people will come to pass. Wherever they go 
they may create alarming situations; for people offending them unwittingly will come to grief.' 
Thinking thus, Virabhadra one day called them to him and said, 'See me after performing your 
daily devotions on the bank of the Ganges.' These disciples had such a high spiritual nature that, 
while meditating, they would go into samadhi and be unaware of the river water flowing over their 
heads during the flood-tide. Then the ebb-tide would come and still they would remain absorbed 
in meditation. 

"Now, one hundred of these disciples had anticipated what their teacher would ask of 
them. Lest they should have to disobey his injunctions, they had quickly disappeared from the 
place before he summoned them. So they did not go to Virabhadra with the others. The remaining 
twelve hundred disciples went to the teacher after finishing their meditation. Virabhadra said to 
them: 'These thirteen hundred nuns will serve you. I ask you to marry them.' 'As you please, 
revered sir', they said. 'But one hundred of us have gone away.' Thenceforth each of these twelve 
hundred disciples had a wife. Consequently they all lost their spiritual power. Their austerities did 
not have their original fire. The company of woman robbed them of their spirituality because it 
destroyed their freedom. 


(To Vijay) "You yourself perceive how far you have gone down by being a servant of others. 
Again, one finds that people with many university degrees, scholars with their vast English 
education, accept service under their English masters and are daily trampled under their boots. 
The one cause of all this is woman. They have married and set up a 'gay fair' with their wives and 

children. Now they cannot go back, much as they would like to. Hence all these insults and 
humiliations, all this suffering from slavery. 

"Once a man realizes God through intense dispassion, he is no longer attached to woman. 
Even if he must lead the life of a householder, he is free from fear of and attachment to woman. 
Suppose there are two magnets, one big and the other small. Which one will attract the iron? The 
big one, of course. God is the big magnet. Compared to Him, woman is a small one. What can 
'woman' do?" 


A DEVOTEE: "Sir, shall we hate women then?" 

MASTER: "He who has realized God does not look upon a woman with the eye of lust; so he 
is not afraid of her. He perceives clearly that women are but so many aspects of the Divine 
Mother. He worships them all as the Mother Herself. 

(To Vijay) "Come here now and then. I like to see you very much." 

VIJAY: "I have to do my various duties in the Brahmo Samaj; that is why I can't always come 
here. But I shall visit you whenever I find it possible." 


MASTER (to Vijay): "The task of a religious teacher is indeed difficult. One cannot teach men 
without a direct command from God. People won't listen to you if you teach without such 
authority. Such teaching has no force behind it. One must first of all attain God through spiritual 
discipline or some other means. Thus armed with authority from God, one can deliver lectures. 

"After receiving the command from God, one can be a teacher and give lectures anywhere. 
He who receives authority from God also receives power from Him. Only then can he perform the 
difficult task of a teacher. 

"An insignificant tenant was once engaged in a lawsuit with a big landlord. People realized 
that there was a powerful man behind the tenant. Perhaps another big landlord was directing the 
case from behind. Man is an insignificant creature. He cannot fulfil the difficult task of a teacher 
without receiving power direct from God." 

VIJAY: "Don't the teachings of the Brahmo Samaj bring men salvation?" 

MASTER: "How is it ever possible for one man to liberate another from the bondage of the 
world? God alone, the Creator of this world-bewitching maya, can save men from maya. There is 
no other refuge but that great Teacher, Satchidananda. How is it ever possible for men who have 
not realized God or received His command, and who are not strengthened with divine strength, to 
save others from the prison-house of the world? 

"One day as I was passing the Panchavati on my way to the pine-grove, I heard a bullfrog 
croaking. I thought it must have been seized by a snake. After some time, as I was coming back, I 
could still hear its terrified croaking. I looked to see what was the matter, and found that a 

water-snake had seized it. The snake could neither swallow it nor give it up. So there was no end 
to the frog's suffering. I thought that had it been seized by a cobra it would have been silenced 
after three croaks at the most. As it was only a water-snake, both of them had to go through this 
agony. A man's ego is destroyed after three croaks, as it were, if he gets into the clutches of a real 
teacher. But if the teacher is an 'unripe' one, then both the teacher and the disciple undergo 
endless suffering. The disciple cannot get rid either of his ego or of the shackles of the world. If a 
disciple falls into the clutches of an incompetent teacher, he doesn't attain liberation." 


VIJAY: "Sir, why are we bound like this? Why don't we see God?" 

MASTER: "Maya is nothing but the egotism of the embodied soul. This egotism has covered 
everything like a veil. 'All troubles come to an end when the ego dies.' If by the grace of God a man 
but once realizes that he is not the doer, then he at once becomes a Jivanmukta. Though living in 
the body, he is liberated. He has nothing else to fear. 

"This maya, that is to say, the ego, is like a cloud. The sun cannot be seen on account of a 
thin patch of cloud; when that disappears one sees the sun. If by the grace of the guru one's ego 
vanishes, then one sees God. 

"Rama, who is God Himself, was only two and a half cubits ahead of Lakshmana. But 
Lakshmana couldn't see Him because Sita stood between them. Lakshmana may be compared to 
the jiva, and Sita to maya. Man cannot see God on account of the barrier of maya. Just look: I am 
creating a barrier in front of my face with this towel. Now you can't see me, even though I am so 
near. Likewise, God is the nearest of all, but we cannot see Him on account of this covering of 


"The jiva is nothing but the embodiment of Satchidananda. But since maya, or ego, has 
created various upadhis, he has forgotten his real Self. 

"Each upadhi changes man's nature. If he wears a fine black-bordered cloth, you will at once 
find him humming Nidhu Babu's love-songs. Then playing-cards and a walkingstick follow. If even a 
sickly man puts on high boots, he begins to whistle and climbs the stairs like an Englishman, 
jumping from one step to another. If a man but holds a pen in his hand, he scribbles on any paper 
he can get hold of-such is the power of the pen ! 

"Money is also a great upadhi. The possession of money makes such a difference in a man! 
He is no longer the same person. A brahmin used to frequent the temple garden. Outwardly he 
was very modest. One day I went to Konnagar with Hriday. No sooner did we get off the boat than 
we noticed the brahmin seated on the bank of the Ganges. We thought he had been enjoying the 
fresh air. Looking at us, he said: 'Hello there, priest! How do you do?' I marked his tone and said to 
Hriday: 'The man must have got some money. That's why he talks that way.' Hriday laughed. 

"A frog had a rupee, which he kept in his hole. One day an elephant was going over the 
hole, and the frog, coming out in a fit of anger, raised his foot, as if to kick the elephant, and said, 
'How dare you walk over my head?' Such is the pride that money begets! 

"One can get rid of the ego after the attainment of Knowledge. On attaining Knowledge one 
goes into samadhi, and the ego disappears. But it is very difficult to obtain such Knowledge. 


"It is said in the Vedas that a man experiences samadhi when his mind ascends to the 
seventh plane. The ego can disappear only when one goes into samadhi. Where does the mind of a 
man ordinarily dwell? In the first three planes. These are at the organs of evacuation and 
generation, and at the navel. Then the mind is immersed only in worldliness, attached to 'woman 
and gold'. A man sees the light of God when his mind dwells in the plane of the heart. He sees the 
light and exclaims: 'Ah! What is this? What is this?' The next plane is at the throat. When the mind 
dwells there he likes to hear and talk only of God. When the mind ascends to the next plane, in the 
forehead, between the eyebrows, he sees the form of Satchidananda and desires to touch and 
embrace it. But he is unable to do so. It is like the light in a lantern, which you can see but cannot 
touch. You feel as if you were touching the light, but in reality you are not. When the mind reaches 
the seventh plane, then the ego vanishes completely and the man goes into samadhi." 


VIJAY: "What does a man see when he attains the Knowledge of Brahman after reaching the 
seventh plane?" 

MASTER: "What happens when the mind reaches the seventh plane cannot be described. 

"Once a boat enters the 'black waters' of the ocean, it does not return. Nobody knows what 
happens to the boat after that. Therefore the boat cannot give us any information about the 

"Once a salt doll went to measure the depth of the ocean. No sooner did it enter the water 
than it melted. Now who could tell how deep the ocean was? That which could have told about its 
depth had melted. Reaching the seventh plane, the mind is annihilated; man goes into samadhi. 
What he feels then cannot be described in words. 

The "wicked I" 

"The T that makes one a worldly person and attaches one to 'woman and gold' is the 
'wicked I'. The intervention of this ego creates the difference between jiva and Atman. Water 
appears to be divided into two parts if one puts a stick across it. But in reality there is only one 
water. It appears as two on account of the stick. This T is the stick. Remove the stick and there 
remains only one water as before. 

"Now, what is this 'wicked I'? It is the ego that says: 'What? Don't they know me? I have so 
much money! Who is wealthier than I?' If a thief robs such a man of only ten rupees, 

first of all he wrings the money out of the thief, then he gives him a good beating. But the 
matter doesn't end there: the thief is handed over to the police and is eventually sent to jail. The 
'wicked I' says: 'What? Doesn't the rogue know whom he has robbed? To steal my ten rupees! 
How dare he?' " 

VIJAY: "If without destroying the T a man cannot get rid of attachment to the world and 
consequently cannot experience samadhi, then it would be wise for him to follow the path of 
Brahmajnana to attain samadhi. If the T persists in the path of devotion, then one should rather 
choose the path of knowledge." 


MASTER: "It is true that one or two can get rid of the T through samadhi; but these cases 
are very rare. You may indulge in thousands of reasonings, but still the T comes back. You may cut 
the peepal-tree to the very root today, but you will notice a sprout springing up tomorrow. 
Therefore if the T must remain, let the rascal remain as the 'servant I'. As long as you live, you 
should say, '0 God, Thou art the Master and I am Thy servant.' The T that feels, 'I am the servant 
of God, I am His devotee' does not injure one. Sweet things cause acidity of the stomach, no 
doubt, but sugar candy is an exception. 

"The path of knowledge is very difficult. One cannot obtain Knowledge unless one gets rid 
of the feeling that one is the body. In the Kaliyuga the life of man is centred on food. He cannot get 
rid of the feeling that he is the body and the ego. Therefore the path of devotion is prescribed for 
this cycle. 

This is an easy path. You will attain God if you sing His name and glories and pray to Him 
with a longing heart. There is not the least doubt about it. 

"Suppose you draw a line on the surface of water with a bamboo stick. The water appears 
to be divided into two parts; but the line doesn't remain for any length of time. The 'servant I'or 
the 'devotee I' or the 'child I' is only a line drawn with the ego and is not real". 


VIJAY (to the Master): "Sir, you ask us to renounce the 'wicked I'. Is there any harm in the 
'servant I'?" 

MASTER: "The 'servant l'-that is, the feeling, 'I am the servant of God, I am the devotee of 
God'-does not injure one. On the contrary, it helps one to realize God." 

VIJAY: "Well, sir, what becomes of the lust, anger, and other passions of one who keeps the 
'servant I'?" 

MASTER: "If a man truly feels like that, then he has only the semblance of lust, anger, and 
the like. If, after attaining God, he looks on himself as the servant or the devotee of God, then he 
cannot injure anyone. By touching the philosopher's stone a sword is turned into gold. It keeps the 
appearance of a sword but cannot injure. 

"When the dry branch of a coconut palm drops to the ground, it leaves only a mark on the 
trunk indicating that once there was a branch at that place. In like manner, he who has attained 
God keeps only an appearance of ego; there remains in him only a semblance of anger and lust. 
He becomes like a child. A child has no attachment to the three gunas-sattva, rajas, and tamas. 
He becomes as quickly detached from a thing as he becomes attached to it. You can cajole him out 
of a cloth worth five rupees with a doll worth an anna, though at first he may say with great 
determination: 'No, I won't give it to you. My daddy bought it for me.' Again, all persons are the 
same to a child. He has no feeling of high and low in regard to persons. So he doesn't discriminate 
about caste. If his mother tells him that a particular man should be regarded as an elder brother, 
the child will eat from the same plate with him, though the man may belong to the low caste of a 
blacksmith. The child doesn't know hate, or what is holy or unholy. 

"Even after attaining samadhi, some retain the 'servant ego' or the 'devotee ego'. The 
bhakta keeps this 'l-consciousness'. He says, '0 God, Thou art the Master and I am Thy servant; 
Thou art the Lord and I am Thy devotee.' He feels that way even after the realization of God. His T 
is not completely effaced. Again, by constantly practising this kind of 'l-consciousness', one 
ultimately attains God. This is called bhaktiyoga. 

"One can attain the Knowledge of Brahman, too, by following the path of bhakti. God is 
all-powerful. He may give His devotee Brahmajnana also, if He so wills. But the devotee generally 
doesn't seek the Knowledge of the Absolute. He would rather have the consciousness that God is 
the Master and he the servant, or that God is the Divine Mother and he the child." 

VIJAY: "But those who discriminate according to the Vedanta philosophy also realize Him in 
the end, don't they?" 


MASTER: "Yes, one may reach Him by following the path of discrimination too: that is called 
Jnanayoga. But it is an extremely difficult path. I have told you already of the seven planes of 
consciousness. On reaching the seventh plane the mind goes into samadhi. If a man acquires the 
firm knowledge that Brahman alone is real and the world illusory, then his mind merges in 
samadhi. But in the Kaliyuga the life of a man depends entirely on food. How can he have the 
consciousness that Brahman alone is real and the world illusory? In the Kaliyuga it is difficult to 
have the feeling, 'I am not the body, I am not the mind, I am not the twenty-four cosmic principles; 
I am beyond pleasure and pain, I am above disease and grief, old age and death.' However you 
may reason and argue, the feeling that the body is identical with the soul will somehow crop up 
from an unexpected quarter. You may cut a peepal-tree to the ground and think it is dead to its 
very root, but the next morning you will find a new sprout shooting up from the dead stump. 
One cannot get rid of this identification with the body; therefore the path of bhakti is best for the 
people of the Kaliyuga. It is an easy path. 

"And, 'I don't want to become sugar; I want to eat it.' I never feel like saying, 'I am 
Brahman.' I say, 'Thou art my Lord and I am Thy servant.' It is better to make the mind go up and 
down between the fifth and sixth planes, like a boat racing between two points. I don't want to go 
beyond the sixth plane and keep my mind a long time in the seventh. My desire is to sing the name 

and glories of God. It is very good to look on God as the Master and oneself as His servant. Further, 
you see, people speak of the waves as belonging to the Ganges; but no one says that the Ganges 
belongs to the waves. The feeling, 'I am He', is not wholesome. A man who entertains such an idea, 
while looking on his body as the Self, causes himself great harm. He cannot go forward in spiritual 
life; he drags himself down. He deceives himself as well as others. He cannot understand his own 
state of mind. 


"But it isn't any and every kind of bhakti that enables one to realize God. One cannot realize 
God without prema-bhakti. Another name for prema-bhakti is raga-bhakti. God cannot be realized 
without love and longing. Unless one has learnt to love God, one cannot realize Him. 

"There is another kind of bhakti, known as vaidhi-bhakti, according to which one must 
repeat the name of God a fixed number of times, fast, make pilgrimages, worship God with 
prescribed offerings, make so many sacrifices, and so forth and so on. By continuing such practices 
a long time one gradually acquires raga-bhakti. God cannot be realized until one has raga-bhakti. 
One must love God. In order to realize God one must be completely free from worldliness and 
direct all of one's mind to Him. 

"But some acquire raga-bhakti directly. It is innate in them. They have it from their very 
childhood. Even at an early age they weep for God. An instance of such bhakti is to be found in 
Prahlada. Vaidhi-bhakti is like moving a fan to make a breeze. One needs the fan to make the 
breeze. Similarly, one practises japa, austerity, and fasting, in order to acquire love of God. But 
the fan is set aside when the southern breeze blows of itself. Such actions as japa and austerity 
drop away when one spontaneously feels love and attachment for God. Who, indeed, will perform 
the ceremonies enjoined in the scriptures, when mad with love of God? 

"Devotion to God may be said to be 'green' so long as it doesn't grow into love of God; but it 
becomes 'ripe' when it has grown into such love. 

"A man with 'green' bhakti cannot assimilate spiritual talk and instruction; but one with 
'ripe' bhakti can. The image that falls on a photographic plate covered with black film5 is retained. 
On the other hand, thousands of images may be reflected on a bare piece of glass, but not one of 
them is retained. As the object moves away, the glass becomes the same as it was before. One 
cannot assimilate spiritual instruction unless one has already developed love of God." 

VIJAY: "Is bhakti alone sufficient for the attainment of God, for His vision?" 

MASTER: "Yes, one can see God through bhakti alone. But it must be 'ripe' bhakti, 
prema-bhakti and raga-bhakti. When one has that bhakti, one loves God even as the mother loves 
the child, the child the mother, or the wife the husband. 

"When one has such love and attachment for God, one doesn't feel the attraction of maya 
to wife, children, relatives, and friends. One retains only compassion for them. To such a man the 
world appears a strange land, a place where he has merely to perform his duties. It is like a man's 
having his real home in the country, but coming to Calcutta for work; he has to rent a house in 

Calcutta for the sake of his duties. When one develops love of God, one completely gets rid of 
one's attachment to the world and worldly wisdom. 

"One cannot see God if one has even the slightest trace of worldliness. Match -sticks, if 
damp, won't strike fire though you rub a thousand of them against the match-box. You only waste 
a heap of sticks. The mind soaked in worldliness is such a damp matchstick. Once Sri Radha said to 
her friends that she saw Krishna everywhere-both within and without. The friends answered: 
'Why, we don't see Him at all. Are you delirious?' Radha said, 'Friends, paint your eyes with the 
collyrium of divine love, and then you will see Him.' 

(To Vijay) "It is said in a song of your Brahmo Samaj: 

Lord, is it ever possible to know Thee without love, however much one may perform 
worship and sacrifice? 

"If the devotee but once feels this attachment and ecstatic love for God, this mature 
devotion and longing, then he sees God in both His aspects, with form and without form." 


VIJAY: "How can one see God?" MASTER: "One cannot see God without purity of heart. 
Through attachment to 'woman and gold' the mind has become stained-covered with dirt, as it 
were. A magnet cannot attract a needle if the needle is covered with mud. Wash away the mud 
and the magnet will draw it. Likewise, the dirt of the mind can be washed away with the tears of 
our eyes. This stain is removed if one sheds tears of repentance and says, '0 God, I shall never 
again do such a thing.' Thereupon God, who is like the magnet, draws to Himself the mind, which is 
like the needle. Then the devotee goes into samadhi and obtains the vision of God. 


"You may try thousands of times, but nothing can be achieved without God's grace. One 
cannot see God without His grace. Is it an easy thing to receive the grace of God? One must 
altogether renounce egotism; one cannot see God as long as one feels, 'I am the doer.' Suppose, in 
a family, a man has taken charge of the store-room; then if someone asks the master, 'Sir, will you 
yourself kindly give me something from the store-room?', the master says to him: 'There is already 
someone in the store-room. What can I do there?' 

"God doesn't easily appear in the heart of a man who feels himself to be his own master. 
But God can be seen the moment His grace descends. He is the Sun of Knowledge. One single ray 
of His has illumined the world with the light of knowledge. That is how we are able to see one 
another and acquire varied knowledge. One can see God only if He turns His light toward His own 

"The police sergeant goes his rounds in the dark of night with a Iantern6 in his hand. No one 
sees his face; but with the help of that light the sergeant sees everybody's face, and others, too, 
can see one another. If you want to see the sergeant, however, you must pray to him: 'Sir, please 

turn the light on your own face. Let me see you.' In the same way one must pray to God: '0 Lord, 
be gracious and turn the light of knowledge on Thyself, that I may see Thy face.' 

"A house without light indicates poverty. So one must light the lamp of Knowledge in one's 
heart. As it is said in a song: 

Lighting the lamp of Knowledge in the chamber of your heart, Behold the face of the 
Mother, Brahman's Embodiment." 

As Vijay had brought medicine with him, the Master asked a devotee to give him some 
water. He was indeed a fountain of infinite compassion. He had arranged for Vijay's boat fare, 
since the latter was too poor to pay it. Vijay, Balaram, M., and the other devotees left for Calcutta 
in a country boat. 

Monday, January 1, 1883 

At eight o'clock in the morning Sri Ramakrishna was seated on a mat spread on the floor of 
his room at Dakshineswar. Since it was a cold day, he had wrapped his body in his moleskin shawl. 
Prankrishna and M. were seated in front of him. Rakhal, too, was in the room. Prankrishna was a 
high government official and lived in Calcutta. Since he had had no offspring by his first wife, with 
her permission he had married a second time. By the second wife he had a son. Because he was 
rather stout, the Master addressed him now and then as "the fat brahmin". He had great respect 
for Sri Ramakrishna. Though a householder, Prankrishna studied the Vedanta and had been heard 
to say: "Brahman alone is real and the world illusory. I am He." The Master used to say to him: "In 
the Kaliyuga the life of a man depends on food. The path of devotion prescribed by Narada is best 
for this age." 

A devotee had brought a basket of jilipi for the Master, which the latter kept by his side. 
Eating a bit of the sweets, he said to Prankrishna with a smile: "You see, I chant the name of the 
Divine Mother; so I get all these good things to eat. (Laughter.) But She doesn't give such fruits as 
gourd or pumpkin. She bestows the fruit of Amrita, Immortality-knowledge, love, discrimination, 
renunciation, and so forth." 

A boy six or seven years old entered the room. The Master himself became like a child. He 
covered the contents of the basket with the palm or his hand, as a child does to conceal sweets 
from another child lest the latter should snatch them. Then he put the basket aside. 

Suddenly the Master went into samadhi and sat thus a long time. His body was transfixed, 
his eyes wide open and unwinking, his breathing hardly perceptible. After a long time he drew a 
deep breath, indicating his return to the world of sense. 


MASTER (to Prankrishna): "My Divine Mother is not only formless, She has forms as well. 
One can see Her forms. One can behold Her incomparable beauty through feeling and love. The 
Mother reveals Herself to Her devotees in different forms. 

"I saw Her yesterday. She was clad in a seamless ochre-coloured garment, and She talked 
with me. 

"She came to me another day as a Mussalman girl six or seven years old. She had a tilak on 
her forehead and was naked. She walked with me, joking and frisking like a child. 

"At Hriday's house I had a vision of Gauranga. He wore a black-bordered cloth. 

"Haladhari used to say that God is beyond both Being and Non-being. I told the Mother 
about it and asked Her, 'Then is the divine form an illusion?' The Divine Mother appeared to me in 
the form of Rati's mother and said, 'Do thou remain in Bhava' I repeated this to Haladhari. Now 
and then I forget Her command and suffer. Once I broke my teeth because I didn't remain in 
bhava. So I shall remain in bhava unless I receive a revelation from heaven or have a direct 
experience to the contrary. I shall follow the path of love. What do you say?" 

PRANKRISHNA: "Yes, sir." 

MASTER: "But why should I ask you about it? There is Someone within me who does all 
these things through me. At times I used to remain in a mood of Godhood and would enjoy no 
peace of mind unless I was being worshipped. 

"I am the machine and God is the Operator. I act as He makes me act. I speak as He makes 
me speak. Keep your raft, says Ramprasad, afloat on the sea of life, Drifting up with the 
flood-tide, drifting down with the ebb. 

"It is like the cast-off leaf before a gale; sometimes it is blown to a good place and 
sometimes into the gutter, according to the direction of the wind. 

"As the weaver said in the story: 'The robbery was committed by the will of Rama, I was 
arrested by the police by the will of Rama, and again, by the will of Rama, I was set free.' 

"Hanuman once said to Rama: '0 Rama, I have taken refuge in Thee. Bless me that I may 
have pure devotion to Thy Lotus Feet and that I may not be caught in the spell of Thy 
world-bewitching maya.' 

"Once a dying bullfrog said to Rama: '0 Rama, when caught by a snake I cry for Your 
protection. But now I am about to die, struck by Your arrow. Hence I am silent.' 


"I used to see God directly with these very eyes, just as I see you. Now I see divine visions in 
trance. "After realizing God a man becomes like a child. One acquires the nature of the object 
one meditates upon. The nature of God is like that of a child. As a child builds up his toy house and 
then breaks it down, so God acts while creating, preserving, and destroying the universe. 
Further, as the child is not under the control of any guna, so God is beyond the three gunas-sattva, 
rajas, and tamas. That is why paramahamsas keep five or ten children with them, that they may 
assume their nature." 

Sitting on the floor in the room was a young man from Agarpara about twenty-two years 
old. Whenever he came to the temple garden, he would take the Master aside, by a sign, and 
whisper his thoughts to him. He was a new-comer. That day he was sitting on the floor near the 

MASTER (to the young man): "A man can change his nature by imitating another's 
character. He can get rid of a passion like lust by assuming the feminine mood. He gradually comes 
to act exactly like a woman. I have noticed that men who take female parts in the theatre speak 
like women or brush their teeth like women while bathing. Come again on a Tuesday or Saturday. 

(To Prankrishna) "Brahman and Sakti are inseparable. Unless you accept Sakti, you will find 
the whole universe unreal-T, 'y° u '/ house, buildings, and family. The world stands solid because 
the Primordial Energy stands behind it. If there is no supporting pole, no framework can be made, 
and without the framework there can be no beautiful image of Durga. 

"Without giving up worldliness a man cannot awaken his spiritual consciousness, nor can he 
realize God. He cannot but be a hypocrite as long as he has even a trace of worldly desire. God 
cannot be realized without guilelessness. 

Cherish love within your heart; abandon cunning and deceit: Through service, worship, 
selflessness, does Rama's blessed vision come. 

Even those engaged in worldly activities, such as office work or business, should hold to the 
truth. Truthfulness alone is the spiritual discipline in the Kaliyuga." 

PRANKRISHNA: "Yes, sir. It is said in the Mahanirvana Tantra: '0 Goddess, this religion 
enjoins it upon one to be truthful, self-controlled, devoted to the welfare of others, unagitated, 
and compassionate.'" 

MASTER: "Yes. But these ideas must be assimilated." 

Sri Ramakrishna was sitting on the small couch. He was in an ecstatic mood and looked at 
Rakhal. Suddenly he was filled with the tender feeling of parental love toward his young disciple 
and spiritual child. Presently he went into samadhi. The devotees sat speechless, looking at the 
Master with wondering eyes. 

Regaining partial consciousness, the Master said: "Why is my spiritual feeling kindled at the 
sight of Rakhal? The more you advance toward God, the less you will see of His glories and 
grandeur. The aspirant at first has a vision of the Goddess with ten arms; there is a great display of 
power in that image. The next vision is that of the Deity with two arms; there are no longer ten 
arms holding various weapons and missiles. Then the aspirant has a vision of Gopala, in which 
there is no trace of power. It is the form of a tender child. Beyond that there are other visions also. 
The aspirant then sees only Light. 

"Reasoning and discrimination vanish after the attainment of God and communion with 
Him in samadhi. How long does a man reason and discriminate? As long as he is conscious of the 
manifold, as long as he is aware of the universe, of embodied beings, of T and 'you'. He becomes 
silent when he is truly aware of Unity. This was the case with Trailanga Swami. 

"Have you watched a feast given to the brahmins? At first there is a great uproar. But the 
noise lessens as their stomachs become more and more filled with food. When the last course of 
curd and sweets is served, one hears only the sound 'soop, soop' as they scoop up the curd in their 
hands. There is no other sound. Next is the stage of sleepsamadhi. There is no more uproar. 

(To M. and Prankrishna) "Many people talk of Brahmajnana, but their minds are always 
preoccupied with lower things: house, buildings, money, name, and sense pleasures. As long as 
you stand at the foot of the Monument,10 so long do you see horses, carriages, Englishmen, and 
Englishwomen. But when you climb to its top, you behold the sky and the ocean stretching to 
infinity. Then you do not enjoy buildings, carriages, horses, or men. They look like ants. 

"All such things as attachment to the world and enthusiasm for 'woman and gold' disappear 
after the attainment of the Knowledge of Brahman. Then comes the cessation of all passions. 
When the log burns, it makes a crackling noise and one sees the flame. But when the burning is 
over and only ash remains, then no more noise is heard. Thirst disappears with the destruction of 
attachment. Finally comes peace. 

"The nearer you come to God, the more you feel peace. Peace, peace, peace-supreme 
peace! The nearer you come to the Ganges, the more you feel its coolness. You will feel 
completely soothed when you plunge into the river. 

"But the universe and its created beings, and the twenty-four cosmic principles, all exist 
because God exists. Nothing remains if God is eliminated. The number increases if you put many 
zeros after the figure one; but the zeros don't have any value if the one is not there." 

The Master continued: "There are some who come down, as it were, after attaining the 
Knowledge of Brahman-after samadhi-and retain the 'ego of Knowledge' or the 'ego of Devotion', 
just as there are people who, of their own sweet will, stay in the market-place after the market 
breaks up. This was the case with sages like Narada. They kept the 'ego of Devotion' for the 
purpose of teaching men. Sankaracharya kept the 'ego of Knowledge' for the same purpose. 

"God cannot be realized if there is the slightest attachment to the things of the world. A 
thread cannot pass through the eye of a needle if the tiniest fibre sticks out. 

"The anger and lust of a man who has realized God are only appearances. They are like a 
burnt string. It looks like a string, but a mere puff blows it away. 

"God is realized as soon as the mind becomes free from attachment. Whatever appears in 
the Pure Mind is the voice of God. That which is Pure Mind is also Pure Buddhi; that, again, is Pure 
Atman, because there is nothing pure but God. But in order to realize God one must go beyond 
dharma and adharma." 

The Master sang in his melodious voice: 

Come, let us go for a walk, mind, to Kali, the Wish-fulfilling Tree, And there beneath It 
gather the four fruits of life. . . . 

Sri Ramakrishna went out on the southeast verandah of his room and sat down. Prankrishna 
and the other devotees accompanied him. Hazra, too, was sitting there. The Master said to 
Prankrishna with a smile: "Hazra is not a man to be trifled with. If one finds the big dargah here, 
then Hazra is the smaller dargah." All laughed at the Master's words. A certain gentleman, 
Navakumar by name, came to the door and stood there. At sight of the devotees he immediately 
left. "Oh! Egotism incarnate!" Sri Ramakrishna remarked. 

About half past nine in the morning Prankrishna took leave of the Master. Soon afterwards 
a minstrel sang some devotional songs to the accompaniment of a stringed instrument. The 
Master was listening to the songs when Kedar Chatterji, a householder devotee, entered the room 
clad in his office clothes. He was a man of devotional temperament and cherished the attitude of 
the gopis of Vrindavan. Words about God would make him weep. 

The sight of Kedar awakened in the Master's mind the episode of Vrindavan in Sri Krishna's 
life. Intoxicated with divine love, the Master stood up and sang, addressing Kedar: 

Tell me, friend, how far is the grove Where Krishna, my Beloved, dwells? His fragrance 
reaches me even here; But I am tired and can walk no farther. . . . 

Sri Ramakrishna assumed the attitude of Sri Radha to Krishna and went into deep samadhi 
while singing the song. He stood there, still as a picture on canvas, with tears of divine joy running 
down his cheeks. 

Kedar knelt before the Master. Touching his feet, he chanted a hymn: 

We worship the Brahman-Consciousness in the Lotus of the Heart, The Undifferentiated, 
who is adored by Hari, Hara, and Brahma; Who is attained by yogis in the depths of their 
meditation; The Scatterer of the fear of birth and death, The Essence of Knowledge and Truth, the 
Primal Seed of the world. 

After a time the Master regained consciousness of the relative world. Soon Kedar took his 
leave and returned to his office in Calcutta. 

At midday Ramlal brought the Master a plate of food that had been offered in the Kali 
temple. Like a child he ate a little of everything. 

Later in the afternoon several Marwari devotees entered the Master's room, where Rakhal 
and M. also were seated. 

A MARWARI DEVOTEE: "Sir, what is the way?" 


MASTER: "There are two ways. One is the path of discrimination, the other is that of love. 
Discrimination means to know the distinction between the Real and the unreal. God alone is the 
real and permanent Substance; all else is illusory and impermanent. The magician alone is real; his 
magic is illusory. This is discrimination. 

"Discrimination and renunciation. Discrimination means to know the distinction between 
the Real and the unreal. Renunciation means to have dispassion for the things of the world. One 
cannot acquire them all of a sudden. They must be practised every day. One should renounce 
'woman and gold' mentally at first. Then, by the will of God, one can renounce it both mentally 
and outwardly. It is impossible to ask the people of Calcutta to renounce all for the sake of God. 
One has to tell them to renounce mentally. 


"Through the discipline of constant practice one is able to give up attachment to 'woman 
and gold'. That is what the Gita says. By practice one acquires uncommon power of mind. Then 
one doesn't find it difficult to subdue the sense-organs and to bring anger, lust, and the like under 
control. Such a man behaves like a tortoise, which, once it has tucked in its limbs, never puts them 
out. You cannot make the tortoise put its limbs out again, though you chop it to pieces with an 

MARWARI DEVOTEE: "Revered sir, you just mentioned two paths. What is the other path?" 

MASTER: "The path of bhakti, or zealous love of God. Weep for God in solitude, with a 
restless soul, and ask Him to reveal Himself to you. Cry to your Mother Syama with a real cry, 
mind ! And how can She hold Herself from you? " 

MARWARI DEVOTEE: "Sir, what is the meaning of the worship of the Personal God? And 
what is the meaning of God without form or attribute?" 

MASTER: "As you recall your father by his photograph, so likewise the worship of the image 
reveals in a flash the nature of Reality. 

"Do you know what God with form is like? Like bubbles rising on an expanse of water, 
various divine forms are seen to rise out of the Great Akasa of Consciousness. The Incarnation of 
God is one of these forms. The Primal Energy sports, as it were, through the activities of a Divine 

"What is there in mere scholarship? God can be attained by crying to Him with a longing 
heart. There is no need to know many things. 

"He who is an Acharya has to know different things. One needs a sword and shield to kill 
others; but to kill oneself, a needle or a nail-knife suffices. 

"One ultimately discovers God by trying to know who this T is. Is this T the flesh, the bones, 
the blood, or the marrow? Is it the mind or the buddhi? Analysing thus, you realize at last that you 
are none of these. This is called the process of 'Neti, neti', 'Not this, not this'. One can neither 
comprehend nor touch the Atman. It is without qualities or attributes. 

"But, according to the path of devotion, God has attributes. To a devotee Krishna is Spirit, 
His Abode is Spirit, and everything about Him is Spirit." 

The Marwari devotees saluted the Master and took their leave. 

At the approach of evening Sri Ramakrishna went out to look at the sacred river. The lamp 
was lighted in his room. The Master chanted the hallowed name of the Divine Mother and 
meditated on Her. Then the evening worship began in the various temples. 

The sound of gongs, floating on the air, mingled with the murmuring voice of the river. 
Peace and blessedness reigned everywhere. 


Sunday, February 18, 1883 

SRI RAMAKRISHNA arrived at Govinda Mukherji's house at Belgharia, near Calcutta. Besides 
Narendra, Ram, and other devotees, some of Govinda's neighbours were present. The Master first 
sang and danced with the devotees. After the kirtan they sat down. Many saluted the Master. 
Now and then he would say, "Bow before God." 

Master's attitude toward the wicked 

"It is God alone", he said, "who has become all this. But in certain places- for instance, in a 
holy man-there is a greater manifestation than in others. You may say, there are wicked men 
also. That is true, even as there are tigers and lions; but one need not hug the 'tiger God'. One 
should keep away from him and salute him from a distance. Take water, for instance. Some 
water may be drunk, some may be used for worship, some for bathing, and some only for washing 


A NEIGHBOUR: "Revered sir, what are the doctrines of Vedanta?" MASTER: "The Vedantist 
says, 'I am He.' Brahman is real and the world illusory. Even the T is illusory. Only the Supreme 
Brahman exists. 

"But the T cannot be got rid of. Therefore it is good to have the feeling, 'I am the servant of 
God, His son, His devotee.' 

"For the Kali Yuga the path of bhakti is especially good. One can realize God through bhakti 
too. As long as one is conscious of the body, one is also conscious of objects. Form, taste, smell, 
sound, and touch-these are the objects. It is extremely difficult to get rid of the consciousness of 
objects. And one cannot realize 'I am He' as long as one is aware of objects. 

"The sannyasi is very little conscious of worldly objects. But the householder is always 
engrossed in them. Therefore it is good for him to feel, 'I am the servant of God." 1 


NEIGHBOUR: "Sir, we are sinners. What will happen to us?" MASTER: "All the sins of the 
body flyaway if one chants the name of God and sings His glories. The birds of sin dwell in the tree 
of the body. Singing the name of God is like clapping your hands. As, at a clap of the hands, the 
birds in the tree flyaway, so do our sins disappear at the chanting of God's name and glories. 

"Again, you find that the water of a reservoir dug in a meadow is evaporated by the heat of 
the sun. Likewise, the water of the reservoir of sin is dried up by the singing of the name and 
glories of God. 

"You must practise it every day. The other day, at the circus, I saw a horse running at top 
speed, with an Englishwoman standing on one foot on its back. How much she must have 
practised to acquire that skill! 

"Weep at least once to see God. 

"These, then, are the two means: practice and passionate attachment to God, that is to say, 
restlessness of the soul to see Him." 

Sri Ramakrishna began his midday meal with the devotees. It was about one o'clock. A 
devotee sang in the courtyard below: 

Awake, Mother! Awake! How long Thou hast been asleep In the lotus of the Muladhara! 
Fulfil Thy secret function, Mother: Rise to the thousand-petalled lotus within the head, Where 
mighty Siva has His dwelling; Swiftly pierce the six lotuses And take away my grief, Essence of 

Hearing the song, Sri Ramakrishna went into samadhi; his whole body became still, and his 
hand remained touching the plate of food. He could eat no more. After a long time his mind came 
down partially to the plane of the sense world, and he said, "I want to go downstairs." A devotee 
led him down very carefully. Still in an abstracted mood, he sat near the singer. The song had 
ended. The Master said to him very humbly, "Sir, I want to hear the chanting of the Mother's name 

The musician sang: 

Awake, Mother! Awake! How long Thou hast been asleep In the lotus of the Muladhara! . . . 
The Master again went into ecstasy. 

February 25, 1883 

After his noon meal the Master conversed with the devotees. Ram, Kedar, Nityagopal, M., 
and others had arrived from Calcutta. Rakhal, Harish, Latu, and Hazra were living with the Master. 
Mr.Choudhury, who had three or four university degrees and was a government officer, was also 
present. He had recently lost his wife and had visited the Master several times for peace of mind. 

MASTER (to Ram and the other devotees): "Devotees like Rakhal, Narendra, and Bhavanath 
may be called Nityasiddha. Their spiritual consciousness has been awake since their very birth. 
They assume human bodies only to impart spiritual illumination to others. 

"There is another class of devotees, known as Kripasiddha, that is to say, those on whom 
the grace of God descends all of a sudden and who at once attain His vision and Knowledge. 
Such people may be likened to a room that has been dark a thousand years, which, when a lamp is 
brought into it, becomes light immediately, not little by little. 


"Those who lead a householder's life should practise spiritual discipline; they should pray 
eagerly to God in solitude. (To Mr. Choudhury) God cannot be realized through scholarship. Who, 
indeed, can understand the things of the Spirit through reason? No, all should strive for devotion 
to the Lotus Feet of God. 

"Infinite are the glories of God! How little can you fathom them! Can you ever find out the 
meaning of God's ways? 

"Bhishma was none other than one of the eight Vasus, but even he shed tears on his bed of 
arrows. He said: 'How astonishing! God Himself is the companion of the Pandava brothers, and still 
there is no end to their troubles and sorrows!' Who can ever understand the ways of God? 

"A man thinks, 'I have practised a little prayer and austerity; so I have gained a victory over 
others.' But victory and defeat lie with God. I have seen a prostitute dying in the Ganges and 
retaining consciousness to the end." 


MR. CHOUDHURY: "How can one see God?" MASTER: "Not with these eyes. God gives one 
divine eyes; and only then can one behold Him. God gave Arjuna divine eyes so that he might see 
His Universal Form. 

"Your philosophy is mere speculation. It only reasons. God cannot be realized that way. 

"God cannot remain unmoved if you have raga-bhakti, that is, love of God with passionate 
attachment to Him. Do you know how fond God is of His devotees' love? It is like the cow's 
fondness for fodder mixed with oil-cake. The cow gobbles it down greedily. 

"Raga-bhakti is pure love of God, a love that seeks God alone and not any worldly end. 
Prahlada had it. Suppose you go to a wealthy man every day, but you seek no favour of him; you 
simply love to see him. If he wants to show you favour, you say: 'No, sir. I don't need anything. I 
came just to see you.' Such is love of God for its own sake. You simply love God and don't want 
anything from Him, in return." 

Saying this, the Master sang: 

Though I am never loath to grant salvation, I hesitate indeed to grant pure love. Whoever 
wins pure love surpasses all; 

He is adored by men; He triumphs over the three worlds. . . . 

He continued, "The gist of the whole thing is that one must develop passionate yearning for 
God and practise discrimination and renunciation." 


MR. CHOUDHURY: "Sir, is it not possible to have the vision of God without the help of a 


MASTER: "Satchidananda Himself is the Guru. At the end of the Shavasadhana, just when 
the vision of the Ishta is about to take place, the guru appears before the aspirant and says to him, 
'Behold! There is your Ishta.' Saying this, the guru merges in the Ishta. He who is the guru is also 
the Ishta. The guru is the thread that leads to God. Women perform a ritualistic worship known as 
the 'Ananta-vrata', the object of worship being the Infinite. But actually the Deity worshipped is 
Vishnu. In Him are the 'infinite' forms of God. 

(To Ram and the other devotees) "If you asked me which form of God you should meditate 
upon, I should say: Fix your attention on that form which appeals to you most; but know for 
certain that all forms are the forms of one God alone. 

"Never harbour malice toward anyone. Siva, Kali, and Hari are but different forms of that 
One. He is blessed indeed who has known all as one. Outwardly he appears as Siva's devotee, But 
in his heart he worships Kali, the Blissful Mother, And with his tongue he chants aloud Lord Hari's 

"The body does not endure without a trace of lust, anger, and the like. You should try to 
reduce them to a minimum." 

Looking at Kedar, the Master said: "He is very nice. He accepts both the Absolute and the 
Relative. He believes in Brahman, but he also accepts the gods and Divine Incarnations in human 

In Kedar's opinion Sri Ramakrishna was such an Incarnation. 

Looking at Nityagopal, the Master said to the devotees, "He is in a lofty mood. 

(To Nityagopal) "Don't go there too often. You may go once in a while. She may be a 
devotee, but she is a woman too. Therefore I warn you. 

"The sannyasi must observe very strict discipline. He must not look even at the picture of a 
woman. But this rule doesn't apply to householders. An aspirant should not associate with a 
woman, even though she is very much devoted to God. A sannyasi, even though he may have 
subdued his passions, should follow this discipline to set an example to householders. 

"Worldly people learn renunciation by seeing the complete renunciation of a monk; 
otherwise they sink more and more. A sannyasi is a world teacher." 

Friday, March 9, 1883 Life of worldliness 

About nine o'clock in the morning the Master was seated in his room with Rakhal, M., and a 
few other devotees. It was the day of the new moon. As usual with him on such days, Sri 
Ramakrishna entered again and again into communion with the Divine Mother. He said to the 
devotees: "God alone exists, and all else is unreal. The Divine Mother has kept all deluded by Her 
maya. Look at men. Most of them are entangled in worldliness. They suffer so much, but still they 
have the same attachment to 'woman and gold'. The camel eats thorny shrubs, and blood gushes 
from its mouth; still it will eat thorns. While suffering pain at the time of delivery, a woman says, 
'Ah ! I shall never go to my husband again.' But afterwards she forgets. 

"The truth is that no one seeks God. There are people who eat the prickly leaves of the 
pineapple and not the fruit." 

DEVOTEE: "Sir, why has God put us in the world?" 

MASTER: "The world is the field of action. Through action one acquires knowledge. The 
guru instructs the disciple to perform certain works and refrain from others. Again, he advises the 
pupil to perform action without desiring the result. The impurity of the mind is destroyed through 
the performance of duty. It is like getting rid of a disease by means of medicine, under the 
instruction of a competent physician. 

"Why doesn't God free us from the world? Ah, He will free us when the disease is cured. He 
will liberate us from the world when we are through with the enjoyment of 'woman and gold'. 
Once a man registers his name in the hospital, he cannot run away. The doctor will not let him go 
away unless his illness is completely cured." 


During these days Sri Ramakrishna's heart overflowed with motherly love like the love 
Yasoda felt for Krishna. So he kept Rakhal with him. Rakhal felt toward the Master as a child feels 
toward its mother. He would sit leaning on the Master's lap as a young child leans on its mother 
while sucking her breast. 

Rakhal was thus seated by the Master when a man entered the room and said that a high 
tide was coming in the Ganges. The Master and the devotees ran to the Panchavati to see it. At the 
sight of a boat being tossed by the tide, Sri Ramakrishna exclaimed: "Look! Look! I hope nothing 
happens to it." 

They all sat in the Panchavati. The Master asked M. to explain the cause of the tide. M. 
drew on the ground the figures of the sun, moon, and earth and tried to explain gravitation, 
ebb-tide, flood-tide, new moon, full moon, eclipse, and so forth. 

MASTER (to M.): "Stop it! I can't follow you. It makes me dizzy. My head is aching. Well, how 
can they know of things so far off? 

"You see, during my childhood I could paint well; but arithmetic would make my head spin. 
I couldn't learn simple arithmetic." 

Sri Ramakrishna returned to his room with the devotees. Looking at a picture of Yasoda, on 
the wall, he said: "It is not well done. She looks like a garland-seller." 


The Master enjoyed a nap after his noon meal. Adhar and other devotees gradually 
gathered. This was Adhar's first visit. He was a deputy magistrate and about thirty years old. 


ADHAR (to the Master): "Sir, I have a question to ask. Is it good to sacrifice animals before 
the Deity? It certainly involves killing." 

MASTER: "The sastra prescribes sacrifice on special occasions. Such sacrifice is not harmful. 
Take, for instance, the sacrifice of a goat on the eighth day of the full or new moon. 

"I am now in such a state of mind that I cannot watch a sacrifice. Also I cannot eat meat 
offered to the Divine Mother. Therefore I first touch my finger to it, then to my head, lest She 
should be angry with me. 

"Again, in a certain state of mind I see God in all beings, even in an ant. At that time, if I see 
a living being die, I find consolation in the thought that it is the death of the body, the soul being 
beyond life and death. 

"One should not reason too much; it is enough if one loves the Lotus Feet of the Mother. 
Too much reasoning throws the mind into confusion. You get clear water if you drink from the 
surface of a pool. Put your hand deeper and stir the water, and it becomes muddy. Therefore pray 
to God for devotion. 

"Behind Dhruva's devotion there was desire. He practised austerities to gain his father's 
kingdom. But Prahlada's love for God was motiveless-a love that sought no return." 

A DEVOTEE: "How can one realize God?" 

MASTER: "Through that kind of love. But one must force one's demand on God. One should 
be able to say: '0 God, wilt Thou not reveal Thyself to me? I will cut my throat with a knife.' This is 
the tamas of bhakti." 

DEVOTEE: "Can one see God?" 

MASTER: "Yes, surely. One can see both aspects of God-God with form and without form. 
One can see God with form, the Embodiment of Spirit. Again, God can be directly perceived in a 
man with a tangible form. Seeing an Incarnation of God is the same as seeing God Himself. God 
is born on earth as man in every age." 

March 11, 1883 Master's birthday celebration 

It was Sri Ramakrishna's birthday. Many of his disciples and devotees wanted to celebrate 
the happy occasion at the Daksineswar temple garden. 

From early morning the devotees streamed in, alone or in parties. After the morning 
worship in the temples sweet music was played in the nahabat. It was springtime. The trees, 
creepers, and plants were covered with new leaves and blossoms. The very air seemed laden with 
joy. And the hearts of the devotees were glad on this auspicious day. 

M. arrived early in the morning and found the Master talking smilingly to Bhavanath, 
Rakhal, and Kalikrishna. M. prostrated himself before him. 

MASTER (to M.): "I am glad you have come. 

(To the devotees) "One cannot be spiritual as long as one has shame, hatred, or fear. Great 
will be the joy today. But those fools who will not sing or dance, mad with God's name, will never 
attain God. How can one feel any shame or fear when the names of God are sung? Now sing, all of 

Bhavanath and his friend Kalikrishna sang: 

Thrice blessed is this day of joy! May all of us unite, Lord, To preach Thy true religion here 
In India's holy land! Thou dwellest in each human heart; Thy name, resounding everywhere, fills 
the four corners of the sky. Today Thy devotees proclaim Thy boundless majesty. We seek not 
wealth or friends or fame, Lord! No other hope is ours. For Thee alone Thy devotees long with 
unflagging love. Safe at Thy feet, what fear have we of death or danger? We have found The Fount 
of Immortality. To Thee the victory, Lord! To Thee the victory! 

As Sri Ramakrishna listened to the song with folded hands, his mind soared to a far-off 
realm. He remained absorbed in meditation a long time. After a while Kalikrishna whispered 
something to Bhavanath. Then he bowed before the Master and rose. Sri Ramakrishna was 
surprised. He asked, "Where are you going?" 

BHAVANATH: "He is going away on a little business." 

MASTER: "What is it about?" 

BHAVANATH: "He is going to the Baranagore Workingmen's Institute." 

MASTER: "It's his bad luck. A stream of bliss will flow here today. He could have enjoyed it. 
But how unlucky!" 

Sri Ramakrishna did not feel well; so he decided not to bathe in the Ganges. About nine 
o'clock a few jars of water were taken from the river, and with the help of the devotees he finished 
his bath on the verandah east of his room. 

After bathing, the Master put on a new wearing-cloth, all the while chanting the name of 
God. Accompanied by one or two disciples he walked across the courtyard to the temple of Kali, 
still chanting Her hallowed name. His eyes had an indrawn look, like that of a bird hatching her 

On entering the temple, he prostrated himself before the image and worshipped the Divine 
Mother. But he did not observe any ritual of worship. Now he would offer flowers and 
sandal-paste at the feet of the image, and now he would put them on his own head. After finishing 
the worship in his own way, he asked Bhavanath to carry the green coconut that had been offered 
to the Mother. He also visited the images of Radha and Krishna in the Vishnu temple. 

When the Master returned to his room, he found that other devotees had arrived, among 
them Ram, Nityagopal, and Kedar. They all saluted the Master, who greeted them cordially. 

He asked Nityagopal, "Will you eat something now?" "Yes", the devotee answered. 
Nityagopal, who was twenty-three or twenty-four years old and unmarried, was like a child. His 
mind was always soaring in the spiritual realm. He visited the Master sometimes alone and 
sometimes in Ram's company. The Master had observed the spiritual state of his mind and had 
become very fond of him. He remarked now and then that Nityagopal was in the state of a 


After Nityagopal had finished eating, the Master took him aside and gave him various 

A certain woman, about thirty-one years old and a great devotee, often visited Sri 
Ramakrishna and held him in high respect. She had been much impressed by Nityagopal's spiritual 
state and, looking upon him as her own son, often invited him to her house. 

MASTER (to Nityagopal): "Do you go there?" 

NITYAGOPAL (like a child): "Yes, I do. She takes me". 

MASTER: "Beware, holy man! Go there once in a great while, but not frequently; otherwise 
you will slip from the ideal. Maya is nothing but 'woman and gold'. A holy man must live away from 
woman. All sink there. 'Even Brahma and Vishnu struggle for life in that whirlpool.' " 

Nityagopal listened to these words attentively. 

M. (to himself): "How strange! This young man has developed the state of a paramahamsa. 
That is what the Master says now and then. Is there still a possibility of his falling into danger in 
spite of his high spiritual state? What an austere rule is laid down for a sadhu! He may slip from his 
ideal by associating intimately with women. How can an ordinary man expect to attain liberation 
unless such a high ideal is set by holy men? The woman in question is very devout; but still there is 
danger. Now I understand why Chaitanya punished his disciple, the younger Haridas, so severely. 
In spite of his teacher's prohibition, Haridas conversed with a widow devotee. But he was a 
sannyasi. Therefore Chaitanya banished him. What a severe punishment! How hard is the rule for 
one who has accepted the life of renunciation! Again, what love the Master cherishes for this 
devotee! He is warning him even now, lest he should run into danger in the future." 

"Beware, holy man!" These words of the Master echoed in the hearts of the devotees, like 
the distant rumbling of thunder. 

The Master went with the devotees to the northeast verandah of his room. Among them 
was a householder from the village of Daksineswar, who studied Vedanta philosophy at home. 
He had been discussing Om with Kedar before the Master. He said, "This Eternal Word, the 
Anahata Sabda, is ever present both within and without." 

MASTER: "But the Word is not enough. There must be something indicated by the Word. 
Can your name alone make me happy? Complete happiness is not possible for me unless I see 

DEVOTEE: "That Eternal Word itself is Brahman." 

MASTER (to Kedar): "Oh, don't you understand? He upholds the doctrine of the rishis of 
olden times. They once said to Rama: '0 Rama, we know You only as the son of Dasaratha. Let 
sages like Bharadvaja worship You as God Incarnate. We want to realize Brahman, the Indivisible 
Existence-Knowledge-Bliss Absolute.' At these words Rama smiled and went away." 

KEDAR: "Those rishis could not recognize Rama as an Incarnation of God. They must have 
been fools," 

MASTER (seriously): "Please don't say such a thing. People worship God according to their 
tastes and temperaments. The mother cooks the same fish differently for her children, that each 
one may have what suits his stomach. For some she cooks the rich dish of pilau. But not all the 
children can digest it. For those with weak stomachs she prepares soup. Some, again, like fried 
fish or pickled fish. It depends on one's taste. 


"The rishis followed the path of jnana. Therefore they sought to realize Brahman, the 
Indivisible Existence-Knowledge-Bliss Absolute. But those who follow the path of devotion seek an 
Incarnation of God, to enjoy the sweetness of bhakti. The darkness of the mind disappears when 
God is realized. In the Purana it is said that it was as if a hundred suns were shining when Rama 
entered the court. Why, then, weren't the courtiers burnt up? It was because the brilliance of 
Rama was not like that of a material object. As the lotus blooms when the sun rises, so the lotus of 
the heart of the people assembled in the court burst into blossom." 

As the Master uttered these words, standing before the devotees, he suddenly fell into an 
ecstatic mood. His mind was withdrawn from external objects. No sooner did he say, "the lotus of 
the heart burst into blossom", than he went into deep samadhi. He stood motionless, his 
countenance beaming and his lips parted in a smile. 

After a long time he returned to the normal consciousness of the world. He drew a long 
breath and repeatedly chanted the name of Rama, every word showering nectar into the hearts of 
the devotees. The Master sat down, the others seating themselves around him. 

MASTER (to the devotees): "Ordinary people do not recognize the advent of an Incarnation 
of God. He comes in secret. Only a few of His intimate disciples can recognize Him. That Rama was 
both Brahman Absolute and a perfect Incarnation of God in human form was known only to twelve 
rishis. The other sages said to Him, 'Rama, we know You only as Dasaratha's son.' 

"Can everyone comprehend Brahman, the Indivisible Existence-Knowledge-Bliss Absolute? 
He alone has attained perfect love of God who, having reached the Absolute, keeps himself in the 
realm of the Relative in order to enjoy the divine lila. A man can describe the ways and activities of 
the Queen if he has previously visited her in England. Only then will his description of the Queen 
be correct. Sages like Bharadvaja adored Rama and said: '0 Rama, You are nothing but the 
Indivisible Satchidananda. You have appeared before us as a human being, but You look like a man 

because You have shrouded Yourself with Your own maya.' These rishis were great devotees of 
Rama: and had supreme love for God." 


Presently some devotees from Konnagar arrived, singing kirtan to the accompaniment of 
drums and cymbals. As they reached the northeast verandah of Sri Ramakrishna's room, the 
Master joined in the music, dancing with them intoxicated with divine joy. 

Now and then he went into samadhi, standing still as a statue. While he was in one of these 
states of divine unconsciousness, the devotees put thick garlands of jasmine around his neck. The 
enchanting form of the Master reminded the devotees of Chaitanya, another Incarnation of God. 
The Master passed alternately through three moods of divine consciousness: the inmost, when he 
completely lost all knowledge of the outer world; the semi-conscious, when he danced with the 
devotees in an ecstasy of love; and the conscious, when he joined them in loud singing. It was 
indeed a sight for the gods, to see the Master standing motionless in samadhi, with fragrant 
garlands hanging from his neck, his countenance beaming with love, and the devotees singing and 
dancing around him. 

When it was time for his noon meal, Sri Ramakrishna put on a new yellow cloth and sat on 
the small couch. His golden complexion, blending with his yellow cloth, enchanted the eyes of the 

After his meal Sri Ramakrishna rested a little on the small couch. Inside and outside his 
room crowded the devotees, among them Kedar, Suresh, Ram, Manomohan, Girindra, Rakhal, 
Bhavanath, and M. Rakhal's father was also present. 


A Vaishnava goswami was seated in the room. The Master said to him: "Well, what do you 
say? What is the way?" 

GOSWAMI: "Sir, the chanting of God's name is enough. The scriptures emphasize the 
sanctity of God's name for the Kaliyuga." 

MASTER: "Yes, there is no doubt about the sanctity of God's name. But can a mere name 
achieve anything, without the yearning love of the devotee behind it? One should feel great 
restlessness of soul for the vision of God. Suppose a man repeats the name of God mechanically, 
while his mind is absorbed in 'woman and gold'. Can he achieve anything? Mere muttering of 
magic words doesn't cure one of the pain of a spider or scorpion sting. One must also apply the 
smoke of burning cow-dung." 

GOSWAMI: "But what about Ajamila then? He was a great sinner; there was no sin he had 
not indulged in. But he uttered the name of Narayana on his death-bed, calling his son, who also 
had that name. And thus he was liberated." 

MASTER: "Perhaps Ajamila had done many spiritual things in his past births. It is also said 
that he once practised austerity; besides, those were the last moments of his life. What is the use 

of giving an elephant a bath? It will cover itself with dirt and dust again and become its former self. 
But if someone removes the dust from its body and gives it a bath just before it enters the stable, 
then the elephant remains clean. . 

"Suppose a man becomes pure by chanting the holy name of God, but immediately 
afterwards commits many sins. He has no strength of mind. He doesn't take a vow not to repeat 
his sins. A bath in the Ganges undoubtedly absolves one of all sins; but what does that avail? They 
say that the sins perch on the trees along the bank of the Ganges. 

No sooner does the man come back from the holy waters than the old sins jump on his 
shoulders from the trees. (All laugh.) The same old sins take possession of him again. He is hardly 
out of the water before they fall upon him. 

"Therefore I say, chant the name of God, and with it pray to Him that you may have love for 
Him. Pray to God that your attachment to such transitory things as wealth, name, and creature 
comforts may become less and less every day. 


(To the goswami) "With sincerity and earnestness one can realize God through all religions. 
The Vaishnavas will realize God, and so will the Saktas, the Vedantists, and the Brahmos. The 
Mussalmans and Christians will realize Him too. All will certainly realize God if they are earnest and 

"Some people indulge in quarrels, saying, 'One cannot attain anything unless one worships 
our Krishna', or, 'Nothing can be gained without the worship of Kali, our Divine Mother', or, 'One 
cannot be saved without accepting the Christian religion.' This is pure dogmatism. The dogmatist 
says, 'My religion alone is true, and the religions of others are false.' This is a bad attitude. God can 
be reached by different paths. 

"Further, some say that God has form and is not formless. Thus they start quarrelling. A 
Vaishnava quarrels with a Vedantist. 

"One can rightly speak of God only after one has seen Him. He who has seen God knows 
really and truly that God has form and that He is formless as well. He has many other aspects that 
cannot be described. 


"Once some blind men chanced to come near an animal that someone told them was an 
elephant. They were asked what the elephant was like. The blind men began to feel its body. 
One of them said the elephant was like a pillar; he had touched only its leg. Another said it was like 
a winnowing-fan; he had touched only its ear. In this way the others, having touched its tail or 
belly, gave their different versions of the elephant. Just so, a man who has seen only one aspect of 
God limits God to that alone. It is his conviction that God cannot be anything else. 


(To the goswami) "How can you say that the only truth about God is that He has form? It is 
undoubtedly true that God comes down to earth in a human form, as in the case of Krishna. And it 
is true as well that God reveals Himself to His devotees in various forms. But it is also true that God 
is formless; He is the Indivisible ExistenceKnowledge-Bliss Absolute. He has been described in the 
Vedas both as formless and as endowed with form. He is also described there both as attributeless 
and as endowed with attributes. 

"Do you know what I mean? Satchidananda is like an infinite ocean. Intense cold freezes the 
water into ice, which floats on the ocean in blocks of various forms. 

Likewise, through the cooling influence of bhakti, one sees forms of God in the Ocean of the 
Absolute. These forms are meant for the bhaktas, the lovers of God. But when the Sun of 
Knowledge rises, the ice melts; it becomes the same water it was before. Water above and water 
below, everywhere nothing but water. Therefore a prayer in the Bhagavata says: '0 Lord, Thou 
hast form, and Thou art also formless. Thou walkest before us, Lord, in the shape of a man; 
again, Thou hast been described in the Vedas as beyond words and thought.' 

"But you may say that for certain devotees God assumes eternal forms. There are places in 
the ocean where the ice doesn't melt at all. It assumes the form of quartz." 

KEDAR: "It is said in the Bhagavata that Vyasa asked God's forgiveness for his three 
transgressions. He said: '0 Lord, Thou art formless, but I have thought of Thee in my meditation as 
endowed with form; Thou art beyond speech, but I have sung Thee hymns; Thou art the 
All-pervading Spirit, but I have made pilgrimages to sacred places. Be gracious, Lord, and forgive 
these three transgressions of mine.'" 

MASTER: "Yes, God has form and He is formless too. Further, He is beyond both form and 
formlessness. No one can limit Him." 

Rakhal's father was sitting in the room. At that time Rakhal was staying with the Master. 
After his mother's death his father had married a second time. Now and then he came to 
Daksineswar because of Rakhal's being there. He did not raise much objection to his son's living 
with the Master. Being a wealthy man of the world, he was always involved in litigation. There 
were lawyers and deputy magistrates among Sri Ramakrishna's visitors. Rakhal's father found it 
profitable to cultivate their acquaintance, since he expected to be benefited by their counsels in 
worldly matters. 

Now and then the Master cast a glance at Rakhal's father. It was his cherished desire that 
Rakhal should live with him permanently at Daksineswar. 


MASTER (to Rakhal's father and the devotees): "Ah, what a nice character Rakhal has 
developed! Look at his face and every now and then you will notice his lips moving. Inwardly he 
repeats the name of God, and so his lips move. 


"Youngsters like him belong to the class of the ever-perfect. They are born with 
God-Consciousness. No sooner do they grow a little older than they realize the danger of coming in 
contact with the world. There is the parable of the Homa bird in the Vedas. The bird lives high up 
in the sky and never descends to earth. It lays its egg in the sky, and the egg begins to fall. But 
the bird lives in such a high region that the egg hatches while falling. The fledgling comes out and 
continues to fall. But it is still so high that while falling it grows wings and its eyes open. Then the 
young bird perceives that it is dashing down toward the earth and will be instantly killed. The 
moment it sees the ground, it turns and shoots up toward its mother in the sky. Then its one goal 
is to reach its mother. 

"Youngsters like Rakhal are like that bird. From their very childhood they are afraid of the 
world, and their one thought is how to reach the Mother, how to realize God. 

"You may ask, 'How is it possible for these boys, born of worldly parents and living among 
the worldly-minded, to develop such knowledge and devotion?' It can be explained. If a pea falls 
into a heap of dung, it germinates into a pea-plant none the less. The peas that grow on that plant 
serve many useful purposes. Because it was sown in dung, will it produce another kind of plant? 

"Ah, what a sweet nature Rakhal has nowadays! And why shouldn't it be so? If the yam is a 
good one, its shoots also become good. (All laugh.) Like father like son." 

M. (aside to Girindra): "How well he has explained God with and without form! Do the 
Vaishnavas believe only in God with form?" 

GIRINDRA: "Perhaps so. They are one-sided." 

M: "Did you understand what he meant by the 'eternal form' of God? That 'quartz'? I 
couldn't grasp it well." 

MASTER (to M.): "Well, what are you talking about?" 

M. and Girindra smiled and remained silent. 

Later in the afternoon the devotees were singing in the Panchavati, where the Master 
joined them. They sang together in praise of the Divine Mother: 

High in the heaven of the Mother's feet, my mind was soaring like a kite, When came a blast 
of sin's rough wind that drove it swiftly toward the earth. Maya disturbed its even flight by bearing 
down upon one side, And I could make it rise no more. Entangled in the twisting string of love for 
children and for wife, Alas! my kite was rent in twain. 

It lost its crest of wisdom soon and downward plunged as I let it go; How could it hope to fly 
again, when all its top was torn away? Though fastened with devotion's cord, it came to grief in 
playing here; Its six opponents worsted it. Now Nareschandra rues this game of smiles and tears, 
and thinks it better Never to have played at all. 

The singing continued. Sri Ramakrishna danced with the devotees. They sang: 

The black bee of my mind is drawn in sheer delight To the blue lotus flower of Mother 
Syama's feet, The blue flower of the feet of Kali, Siva's Consort; Tasteless, to the bee, are the 
blossoms of desire. My Mother's feet are black, and black, too, is the bee; Black is made one with 
black! This much of the mystery My mortal eyes behold, then hastily retreat. But Kamalakanta's 
hopes are answered in the end; He swims in the Sea of Bliss, unmoved by joy or pain. 

The kirtan went on: 

Mother, what a machine is this that Thou hast made! What pranks Thou playest with this 
toy Three and a half cubits high! Hiding Thyself within, Thou holdest the guiding string; But the 
machine, not knowing it, Still believes it moves by itself. Whoever finds the Mother remains a 
machine no more; Yet some machines have even bound The Mother Herself with the string of 

It was a very happy day for all. 

The Master, accompanied by M., was coming back to his room, when he met Trailokya, a 
Brahmo devotee, on the way. Trailokya bowed before the Master. 

MASTER: "They are singing in the Panchavati. Won't you go there?" 

TRAILOKYA: "What shall I do there?" 

MASTER: "Why, you will enjoy the music." 

TRAILOKYA: "I have been there already." 

MASTER: "Well, well! That's good." 

It was about six o'clock in the evening. The Master was sitting with the devotees on the 
southeast verandah of his room. 

MASTER: "A holy man who has renounced the world will of course chant the name of God. 
That is only natural. He has no other duties to perform. If he meditates on God it shouldn't surprise 
anybody. On the other hand, if he fails to think of God or chant His holy name, then people will 
think ill of him. 

"But it is a great deal to his credit if a householder utters the name of the Lord. Think of 
King Janaka. What courage he had, indeed! He fenced with two swords, the one of Knowledge and 
the other of work. He possessed the perfect Knowledge of Brahman and also was devoted to the 
duties of the world. An unchaste woman attends to the minutest duties of the world, but her mind 
always dwells on her paramour. 

"The constant company of holy men is necessary. The holy man introduces one to God." 

KEDAR: "Yes, sir. The great soul is born in the world for the redemption of humanity. He 
leads others to God, just as a locomotive engine takes along with it a long train of carriages. Or 
again, he is like a river or lake that quenches the thirst of many people." 

The devotees were ready to return home. One by one they saluted the Master. At the sight 
of Bhavanath Sri Ramakrishna said: "Don't go away today. The very sight of you inspires me." 
Bhavanath had not yet entered into worldly life. A youth of twenty, he had a fair complexion and 
handsome features. He shed tears of joy on hearing the name of God. The Master looked on him 
as the embodiment of Narayana. 

Thursday, March 29, 1883 

The Master had taken a little rest after his noon meal, when a few devotees arrived from 
Calcutta, among them Amrita and the well-known singer of the Brahmo Samaj, Trailokya. 

Rakhal was not feeling well. The Master was greatly worried about him and said to the 
devotees: "You see, Rakhal is not well. Will soda-water help him? What am I to do now? Rakhal, 
please take the prasad from the Jagannath temple." 

Even as he spoke these words the Master underwent a strange transformation. He looked 
at Rakhal with the infinite tenderness of a mother and affectionately uttered the name of Govinda. 
Did he see in Rakhal the manifestation of God Himself? The disciple was a young boy of pure heart 
who had renounced all attraction to lust and greed. And Sri Ramakrishna was intoxicated day and 
night with love of God. At the sight of Rakhal his eyes expressed the tender feelings of a mother, a 
love like that which had filled the heart of Mother Yasoda at the sight of the Baby Krishna. The 
devotees gazed at the Master in wonder as he went into deep samadhi. As his soul soared into the 
realm of Divine Consciousness, his body became motionless, his eyes were fixed on the tip of his 
nose, and his breathing almost ceased. 


An unknown Bengali, dressed in the ochre cloth of a monk, entered the room and sat on the 
floor. The Master's mind was coming down to the ordinary plane of consciousness. Presently he 
began to talk, though the spell of samadhi still lingered. 

MASTER (at the sight of the ochre cloth): "Why this gerrua? Should one put on such a thing 
for a mere fancy? A man once said, 'I have exchanged the Chandi for a drum.' At first he used to 
sing the holy songs of the Chandi; now he beats the drum. (All laugh.) 

"There are three or four varieties of renunciation. Afflicted with miseries at home, one may 
put on the ochre cloth of a monk; but that renunciation doesn't last long. Again, a man out of work 
puts on an ochre wearing-cloth and goes off to Benares. After three months he writes home: 'I 
have a job here. I shall come home in a few days. Don't worry about me.' Again, a man may have 
everything he wants. He lacks nothing, yet he does not enjoy his possessions. He weeps for God 
alone. That is real renunciation. 

"No lie of any sort is good. A false garb, even though a holy one, is not good. If the outer 
garb does not correspond to the inner thought, it gradually brings ruin. Uttering false words or 
doing false deeds, one gradually loses all fear. Far better is the white cloth of a householder. 
Attachment to worldliness, occasional lapses from the ideal, and an outer garb of gerrua- how 

"It is not proper for a righteous person to tell a lie or do something false even in a dramatic 
performance. Once I went to Keshab's house to see the performance of a play called 
Nava-Vrindavan. They brought something on the stage which they called the 'Cross'. Another actor 
sprinkled water, which they said was the 'Water of Peace'. I saw a third actor staggering and 
reeling in the role of a drunkard." 


MASTER: "It is not good for a devotee to play such parts. It is bad for the mind to dwell on 
such subjects for a long while. The mind is like white linen fresh from the laundry; it takes the 
colour in which you dip it. If it is associated with falsehood for a long time, it will be stained with 

"Another day I went to Keshab's house to see the play called Nimai Sannyas. Some flattering 
disciples of Keshab spoiled the whole performance. One of them said to Keshab, 'You are the 
Chaitanya of the Kaliyuga.' Keshab pointed to me and asked with a smile, 'Then who is he?' I 
replied: 'Why, I am the servant of your servant. I am a speck of the dust of your feet.' Keshab had a 
desire for name and fame. 

(To Amrita and Trailokya) "Youngsters like Narendra and Rakhal are ever-perfect. Every time 
they are born they are devoted to God. An ordinary man acquires a little devotion after austerities 
and a hard struggle. But these boys have love of God from the very moment of their birth. They 
are like the natural image of Siva, which springs forth from the earth and is not set up by human 


"The ever-perfect form a class by themselves. Not all birds have crooked beaks. The 
ever-perfect are never attached to the world. There is the instance of Prahlada. 

"Ordinary people practise spiritual discipline and cultivate devotion to God; but they also 
become attached to the world and are caught in the glamour of 'woman and gold'. They are like 
flies, which sit on a flower or a sweetmeat and light on filth as well. 

"But the ever-perfect are like bees, which light only on flowers and sip the honey. The 
ever-perfect drink only the Nectar of Divine Bliss. They are never inclined to worldly pleasures. 

"The devotion of the ever-perfect is not like the ordinary devotion that one acquires as a 
result of strenuous spiritual discipline. Ritualistic devotion consists in repeating the name of God 
and performing worship in a prescribed manner. It is like crossing a rice-field in a roundabout way 
along the balk. Again, it is like reaching a near-by village by boat in a roundabout way along a 
winding river. 

"One does not follow the injunctions of ceremonial worship when one develops ragabhakti, 
when one loves God as one's own. Then it is like crossing a rice-field after the harvest. You don't 
have to walk along the balk. You can go straight across the field in any direction. 

"When the country is flooded deep with water, one doesn't have to follow the winding 
river. Then the fields are deep under water. You can row your boat straight to the village. 

"Without this intense attachment, this passionate love, one cannot realize God." 


AMRITA: "Sir, how do you feel in samadhi?" 

MASTER: "You may have heard that the cockroach, by intently meditating on the Bhramara, 
is transformed into a Bhramara. Do you know how I feel then? I feel like a fish released from a pot 
into the water of the Ganges." 

AMRITA: "Don't you feel at that time even a trace of ego?" 

MASTER: "Yes, generally a little of it remains. However hard you may rub a grain of gold 
against a grindstone, still a bit of it always remains. Or again, take the case of a big fire; the ego is 
like one of its sparks. In samadhi I lose outer consciousness completely; but God generally keeps a 
little trace of ego in me for the enjoyment of divine communion. Enjoyment is possible only when 
T and 'you' remain. 

"Again, sometimes God effaces even that trace of T. Then one experiences jada samadhi or 
nirvikalpa samadhi. That experience cannot be described. A salt doll went to measure the depth of 
the ocean, but before it had gone far into the water it melted away. It became entirely one with 
the water of the ocean. Then who was to come back and tell the ocean's depth?" 


Saturday, April 7, 1883 

SRI RAMAKRISHNA was visiting Balaram in Calcutta, with Narendra, Bhavanath, Rakhal, M., 
and others. Balaram, at the Master's bidding, had invited some of the young devotees to lunch. 
Sri Ramakrishna often said to him, "Feed them now and then; that will confer on you the merit of 
feeding holy men." The Master looked on his young disciples, yet untouched by "woman and 
gold", as veritable embodiments of God. 

A few days earlier Sri Ramakrishna had been to Keshab's house with Narendra and Rakhal to 
see a performance of the play entitled Nava-Vrindavan. Narendra had taken part in the 
performance, in which Keshab had played the role of Pavhari Baba. 

MASTER: "Keshab came on the stage in the role of a holy man and sprinkled the 'Water of 
Peace'. But I didn't like it. The idea of sprinkling such water on a theatrical stage after a 

"Another gentleman played the part of Sin. That is not good either. One should not commit 
sin; one should not even feign it." 

Narendra's music 

The Master wanted to hear Narendra sing. The young disciple was not feeling well, but at 
the Master's earnest request he sang to the accompaniment of the Tanpura: 

Sing, bird that nestles deep within my heart! Sing, bird that sits on the Kalpa-Tree of 
Brahman! Sing God's everlasting praise. . . . 

Then he sang: 

Brahman, Joy of the whole universe, Supreme Effulgence; God beginningless, Lord of the 
world, the very Life of life! . .. 

And again: 

King of Kings, reveal Thyself to me! 

1 crave Thy mercy. Cast on me Thy glance! 
At Thy dear feet I dedicate my life, 
Seared in the fiery furnace of this world. 
My heart, alas, is deeply stained with sin; 
Ensnared in maya, I am all but dead. 
Compassionate Lord! Revive my fainting soul 

With the life-giving nectar of Thy grace. Narendra continued: 

Upon the tray of the sky blaze bright the lamps of Sun and moon; Like diamonds shine the 
glittering stars To deck Thy wondrous form. The sweet Malaya breeze blows soft, for fragrant 
incense smoke; the moving air sways to and fro the fan before Thy holy face: Like gleaming votive 
lights the fresh and flowery groves appear. How wonderful Thy worship is, Slayer of birth and 
death! The sacred Om, from space arisen, is the resounding drum. My mind craves nectar day and 
night At Hari's Lotus Feet; Oh, shower the waters of Thy grace On thirsty Nanak, blessed Lord; And 
may Thy hallowed name Become his everlasting home! 

He sang again: 

In Wisdom's firmament the moon of Love is rising full, And Love's flood-tide, in surging 
waves, is flowing everywhere. Lord, how full of bliss Thou art! Victory unto Thee! . . . 

Then at the Master's bidding Bhavanath sang: 

Where is a friend like Thee, Essence of Mercy? Where is another friend like Thee to stand 
by me through pain and pleasure? Who, among all my friends, forgives my failings, bringing me 
comfort for my grief, Soothing my spirit in its terror? Thou art the Helmsman who dost steer life's 
craft across the world's perilous sea; Thy grace it is alone, Lord, That silences my raging passions' 
storm. Thou pourest out the waters of peace upon my burning, penitent soul: And Thine is the 
bosom that will shelter me when every other friend I own Deserts me in my dying hour. 


Narendra said to the Master with a smile, referring to Bhavanath, "He has given up fish and 

MASTER: "Why so? What is the matter with fish and betel-leaf? They aren't harmful. The 
renunciation of 'woman and gold' is the true renunciation. 

"Where is Rakhal?" 

A DEVOTEE: "He is asleep, sir." 

MASTER (with a smile): "Once a man went to a certain place to see a theatrical 
performance, carrying a mat under his arm. Hearing that it would be some time before the 
performance began, he spread the mat on the floor and fell asleep. When he woke up it was all 
over. (All laugh.) Then he returned home with the mat under his arm." 

Ramdayal was very ill and lay in bed in another room. The Master went there to inquire 
about him. 

About four o'clock in the afternoon some members of the Brahmo Samaj arrived. The 
Master began to converse with them. 

Study of scriptures for the beginner 

A BRAHMO: "Sir, have you read the Panchadasi?" 

MASTER: "At first one should hear books like that and indulge in reasoning. But later on- 

Cherish my precious Mother Syama Tenderly within, mind; May you and I alone behold 
Her, Letting no one else intrude. 

"One should hear the scriptures during the early stages of spiritual discipline. After attaining 
God there is no lack of knowledge. Then the Divine Mother supplies it without fail. 

"A child spells out every word as he writes, but later on he writes fluently. 

"The goldsmith is up and doing while melting gold. As long as the gold hasn't melted, he 
works the bellows with one hand, moves the fan with the other, and blows through a pipe with his 
mouth. But the moment the gold melts and is poured into the mould, he is relieved of all 

"Mere reading of the scriptures is not enough. A person cannot understand the true 
significance of the scriptures if he is attached to the world. Though with intense delight I learnt 
many poems and dramas, I have forgotten them all, entrapped in Krishna's love. 

"Keshab enjoys the world and practises yoga as well. Living in the world, he directs his mind 
to God." 

A devotee described the Convocation of Calcutta University, saying that the meeting looked 
like a forest of human heads. 

MASTER: "The feeling of the Divine is awakened in me when I see a great crowd of people. 
Had I seen that meeting, I should have been overwhelmed with spiritual fervour." 

Sunday, April 8, 1883 

It was Sunday morning. The Master, looking like a boy, was seated in his room, and near 
him was another boy, his beloved disciple Rakhal. M. entered and saluted the Master. Ramlal also 
was in the room, and Kishori, Manilal Mallick, and several other devotees gathered by and by. 

Manilal Mallick, a business man, had recently been to Benares, where he owned a 


MASTER: "So you have been to Benares. Did you see any holy men there?" 

MANILAL: "Yes, sir. I paid my respects to Trailanga Swami, Bhaskarananda, and others." 
MASTER: "Tell us something about them." 

MANILAL: "Trailanga Swami is living in the same temple where he lived before-on the 
Manikarnika Ghat; near the Benimadhav Minaret. People say he was formerly in a more exalted 
spiritual state. He could perform many miracles. Now he has lost much of that power." 

MASTER: "That is the criticism of worldly people." 

MANILAL: "Trailanga Swami keeps a strict vow of silence. Unlike him, Bhaskarananda is 
friendly with all." 

MASTER: "Did you have any conversation with Bhaskarananda?" 

MANILAL: "Yes, sir. We had a long talk. Among other things we discussed the problem of 
good and evil. He said to me: 'Don't follow the path of evil. Give up sinful thoughts. That is how 
God wants us to act. Perform only those duties that are virtuous.' " 

The seer of God transcends good and evil 

MASTER: "Yes, that is also a path, meant for worldly-minded people. But those whose 
spiritual consciousness has been awakened, who have realized that God alone is real and all else 
illusory, cherish a different ideal. They are aware that God alone is the Doer and others are His 

"Those whose spiritual consciousness has been awakened never make a false step. They do 
not have to reason in order to shun evil. They are so full of love of God that whatever action they 
undertake is a good action. They are fully conscious that they are not the doers of their actions, 
but mere servants of God. They always feel: 'I am the machine and He is the Operator. I do as He 
does through me. I speak as He speaks through me. I move as He moves me.' 

"Fully awakened souls are beyond virtue and vice. They realize that it is God who does 


"There was a monastery in a certain place. The monks residing there went out daily to beg 
their food. One day a monk, while out for his alms, saw a landlord beating a man mercilessly. The 
compassionate monk stepped in and asked the landlord to stop. But the landlord was filled with 
anger and turned his wrath against the innocent monk. He beat the monk till he fell unconscious 
on the ground. Someone reported the matter to the monastery. The monks ran to the spot and 
found their brother lying there. Four or five of them carried him back and laid him on a bed. He 
was still unconscious. The other monks sat around him sad at heart; some were fanning him. 
Finally someone suggested that he should be given a little milk to drink. When it was poured into 
his mouth he regained consciousness. He opened his eyes and looked around. One of the monks 
said, 'Let us see whether he is fully conscious and can recognize us.' Shouting into his ear, he said, 
'Revered sir, who is giving you milk?' 'Brother,' replied the holy man in a low voice, 'He who beat 
me is now giving me milk.' 

"But one does not attain such a state of mind without the realization of God." 

MANUAL: "Sir, what you have just said applies to a man of a very lofty spiritual state. I 
talked on such topics in a general way with Bhaskarananda." 

MASTER: "Does he live in a house?" 

MANILAL: "Yes, sir. He lives with a devotee." 

MASTER: "How old is he now?" 

MANILAL: "About fifty-five." 

MASTER: "Did you talk about anything else?" 

MANILAL: "I asked him how to cultivate bhakti. He said: 'Chant the name of God. Repeat the 
name of Rama.' " 

MASTER: "That is very good." 

The worship was over in the temples and the bells rang for the food offerings in the shrines. 
As it was a summer noon the sun was very hot. The flood-tide began in the 

Ganges and a breeze came up from the south. Sri Ramakrishna was resting in his room after 
his meal. 

The people of Basirhat, Rakhal 's birth-place, had been suffering from a severe drought 
during the summer months. 

MASTER (to Manilal): "Rakhal says that the people in his native village have been suffering 
seriously from a scarcity of water. Why don't you build a reservoir there? That will do the people 
good. (Smiling) You have so much money; what will you do with all your wealth? But they say that 
telis are very calculating." (All laugh.) 

Manilal was truly a calculating man, though he suffered no lack of money. In later years he 
set up an endowment of twenty-five thousand rupees for the maintenance of poor students. 

Manilal made no answer to these words of the Master about his caste characteristics. Later 
on, in the course of the conversation, he remarked casually: "Sir, you referred to a reservoir. You 
might as well have confined yourself to that suggestion. Why allude to the 'oil-man caste' and all 

Some of the devotees smiled to themselves. The Master laughed. 

Presently a few elderly members of the Brahmo Samaj arrived. The room was full of 
devotees. Sri Ramakrishna was sitting on his bed, facing the north. He kept smiling, and talked to 
the Brahmo devotees in a joyous mood. 


MASTER: "You talk glibly about prema. But is it such a commonplace thing? There are two 
characteristics of prema. First, it makes one forget the world. So intense is one's love of God that 
one becomes unconscious of outer things. Chaitanya had this ecstatic love; he 'took a wood for the 
sacred grove of Vrindavan and the ocean for the dark waters of the Jamuna'. Second, one has no 
feeling of 'my-ness' toward the body, which is so dear to man. One wholly gets rid of the feeling 
that the body is the soul. 


"There are certain signs of God-realization. The man in whom longing for God manifests its 
glories is not far from attaining Him. What are the glories of that longing? They are discrimination, 
dispassion, compassion for living beings, serving holy men, loving their company, chanting the 
name and glories of God, telling the truth, and the like. When you see those signs of longing in an 
aspirant, you can rightly say that for him the vision of God is not far to seek. 

"The state of a servant's house will tell you unmistakably whether his master has decided to 
visit it. First, the rubbish and jungle around the house are cleared up. Second, the soot and dirt 
are removed from the rooms. Third, the courtyard, floors, and other places are swept clean. 
Finally the master himself sends various things to the house such as a carpet, a hubble-bubble for 
smoking, and the like. When you see these things arriving, you conclude that the master will very 
soon come" 

A DEVOTEE: "Sir, should one first practise discrimination to attain self-control?" 

MASTER: "That is also a path. It is called the path of vichara, reasoning. But the inner 
organs3 are brought under control naturally through the path of devotion as well. It is rather easily 
accomplished that way. Sense pleasures appear more and more tasteless as love for God grows. 
Can carnal pleasure attract a grief-stricken man and woman the day their child has died?" 


DEVOTEE: "How can I develop love for God?" 

MASTER: "Repeat His name, and sins will disappear. Thus you will destroy lust, anger, the 
desire for creature comforts, and so on." 

DEVOTEE: "How can I take delight in God's name?" 

MASTER: "Pray to God with a yearning heart that you may take delight in His name. He will 
certainly fulfil your heart's desire." 

So saying, the Master sang a song in his sweet voice, pleading with the Divine Mother to 
show Her grace to suffering men: 

Mother, I have no one else to blame: Alas! I sink in the well these very hands have dug. 
With the six passions for my spade, I dug a pit in the sacred land of earth; And now the dark water 
of death gushes forth! How can I save myself, my Redeemer? 

Surely I have been my own enemy; How can I now ward off this dark water of death? 
Behold, the waters rise to my chest! How can I save myself? Mother, save me! Thou art my only 
Refuge; with Thy protecting glance Take me across to the other shore of the world. 

The Master sang again: 

What a delirious fever is this that I suffer from! Mother, Thy grace is my only cure. False 
pride is the fever that racks my wasted form; "I" and "mine" are my cry. Oh, what a wicked 
delusion! My quenchless thirst for wealth and friends is never-ceasing; How, then, shall I sustain 
my life? 

Talk about things unreal, this is my wretched delirium, And I indulge in it always, Giver of 
all good fortune! My eyes in seeming sleep are closed, my stomach is filled With the vile worms of 
cruelty. Alas! I wander about absorbed in unmeaning deeds; Even for Thy holy name I have no 
taste, Mother! I doubt that I shall ever be cured of this malady. 

Then the Master said: '"Even for Thy holy name I have no taste.' A typhoid patient has very 
little chance of recovery if he loses all taste for food; but his life need not be despaired of if he 
enjoys food even a little. That is why one should cultivate a taste for God's name. Any name will 
do-Durga, Krishna, or Siva. Then if, through the chanting of the name, one's attachment to God 
grows day by day, and joy fills the soul, one has nothing to fear. The delirium will certainly 
disappear; the grace of God will certainly descend. 


" 'As is a man's feeling of love, so is his gain.' Once two friends were going along the street, 
when they saw some people listening to a reading of the Bhagavata. 'Come, friend', said the one to 
the other. 'Let us hear the sacred book.' So saying he went in and sat down. The second man 
peeped in and went away. He entered a house of ill fame. But very soon he felt disgusted with the 
place. 'Shame on me!' he said to himself. 'My friend has been listening to the sacred word of Hari; 
and see where I am!' But the friend who had been listening to the Bhagavata also became 
disgusted. 'What a fool I am!' he said. 'I have been listening to this fellow's blah-blah, and my 
friend is having a grand time.' In course of time they both died. The messenger of Death came for 

the soul of the one who had listened to the Bhagavata and dragged it off to hell. The messenger of 
God came for the soul of the one who had been to the house of prostitution and led it up to 

"Verily, the Lord looks into a man's heart and does not judge him by what he does or where 
he lives. 'Krishna accepts a devotee's inner feeling of love.' 

"In the Kartabhaja sect, the teacher, while giving initiation, says to the disciple, 'Now 
everything depends on your mind.' According to this sect, 'He who has the right mind find the right 
way and also achieves the right end.' It was through the power of his mind that Hanuman leapt 
over the sea. 'I am the servant of Rama; I have repeated the holy name of Rama. Is there anything 
impossible for me?'-that was Hanuman's faith. 

"Ignorance lasts as long as one has ego. There can be no liberation so long as the ego 
remains. '0 God, Thou art the Doer and not I'-that is knowledge. 

"By being lowly one can rise high. The chatak bird makes its nest on low ground, but it soars 
very high in the sky. Cultivation is not possible on high land; in low land water accumulates and 
makes cultivation possible. 

"One must take the trouble to seek the company of holy persons. In his own home a man 
hears only worldly talk; the disease of worldliness has become chronic with him. The caged parrot 
sitting on its perch repeats, 'Rama! Rama!' But let it fly to the forest and it will squawk in its usual 

"Mere possession of money doesn't make a nobleman. One sign of the mansion of a 
nobleman is that all the rooms are lighted. The poor cannot afford much oil, and consequently 
cannot have so many lights. This shrine of the body should not be left dark; one should illumine it 
with the lamp of Wisdom. Lighting the lamp of knowledge in the chamber of your heart, Behold 
the face of the Mother, Brahman's Embodiment. 

"Everyone can attain Knowledge. There are two entities: Jivatma, the individual soul, and 
Paramatma, the Supreme Soul. Through prayer all individual souls can be united to the Supreme 
Soul. Every house has a connection for gas, and gas can be obtained from the main storage-tank of 
the Gas Company. Apply to the Company, and it will arrange for your supply of gas. Then your 
house will be lighted. 

"In some people spiritual consciousness has already been awakened; but they have special 
marks. They do not enjoy hearing or talking about anything but God. They are like the chatak, 
which prays for rain-water though the seven oceans, the Ganges, the Jamuna, and the rivers near 
it are all filled with water. It won't drink anything but rainwater, even though its throat is burning 
with thirst." 

The Master wanted to hear a few songs. Ramlal and a brahmin official of the temple garden 


Dwell, Lord, Lover of bhakti, In the Vrindavan of my heart, And my devotion unto Thee 
Will be Thy Radha, dearly loved. . . . 

And again: 

The dark cloud of the summer storm fades into nothingness, When, flute in hand and a 
smile on His lips, Lighting the world with His loveliness, Krishna, the Dark One, appears. 

His dazzling yellow robe outgleams even the lightning's glare; A wreath of wild-flowers 
interwoven Gently swings from His youthful breast And softly kisses His feet. 

See, there He stands, the Lord of life, the Moon of Nanda's line, Outshining all the moons in 
heaven And with the splendour of His rays Flooding the Jamuna's bank! 

He stands there, stealing the maidens' hearts; He lures them from hearth and home. 
Krishna enters my own heart's shrine, And with His flute-note steals away My wisdom, life, and 
soul. To whom shall Ganga Narayana pour out his tale of woe? Ah, friend, you might have 
understood Had you but gone to the Jamuna's bank To fill your water-jar! 

Again they sang: 

High in the heaven of the Mother's feet, my mind was soaring like a kite, When came a blast 
of sin's rough wind that drove it swiftly toward the earth. . . . 


MASTER (to the devotees): "As the tiger devours other animals, so does the 'tiger of zeal for 
the Lord' eat up lust, anger, and the other passions. Once this zeal grows in the heart, lust and the 
other passions disappear. The gopis of Vrindavan had that state of mind because of their zeal for 

"Again, this zeal for God is compared to collyrium. Radha said to her friends, 'I see Krishna 
everywhere.' They replied, 'Friend, you have painted your eyes with the collyrium of love; that is 
why you see Krishna everywhere.' 

"They say that when your eyes are painted with collyrium made from the ashes of a frog's 
head you see snakes everywhere. 


"They are indeed bound souls who constantly dwell with 'woman and gold' and do not think 
of God even for a moment. How can you expect noble deeds of them? They are like mangoes 
pecked by a crow, which may not be offered to the Deity in the temple, and which even men 
hesitate to eat. 

"Bound souls, worldly people, are like silk-worms. The worms can cut through their cocoons 
if they want, but having woven the cocoons themselves, they are too much attached to them to 
leave them. And so they die there. 

"Free souls are not under the control of 'woman and gold'. There are some silk-worms that 
cut through the cocoon they have made with such great care. But they are few and far between. 

"It is maya that deludes. Only a few become spiritually awakened and are not deluded by 
the spell of maya. They do not come under the control of 'woman and gold'. 


"There are two classes of perfect souls: those who attain perfection through spiritual 
practice, and those who attain it through the grace of God. Some farmers irrigate their fields with 
great labour. Only then can they grow crops. But there are some who do not have to irrigate at all; 
their fields are flooded by rain. They don't have to go to the trouble of drawing water. One must 
practise spiritual discipline laboriously, in order to avoid the clutches of maya. Those who attain 
liberation through the grace of God do not have to labour. But they are few indeed. 


"Then there is the class of the ever-perfect. They are born in each life with their spiritual 
consciousness already awakened. Think of a spring whose outlet is obstructed. While looking after 
various things in the garden, the plumber accidentally clears it and the water gushes out. Yet 
people are amazed to see the first manifestations of an ever-perfect soul's zeal for God. They say, 
'Where was all this devotion and renunciation and love?'" 

The conversation turned to the spiritual zeal of devotees, as illustrated in the earnestness of 
the gopis of Vrindavan. Ramlal sang: 

Thou art my All in All, Lord !-the Life of my life, the Essence of essence; In the three worlds 
I have none else but Thee to call my own. Thou art my peace, my joy, my hope; Thou my support, 
my wealth, my glory; Thou my wisdom and my strength. Thou art my home, my place of rest; my 
dearest friend, my next of kin; My present and my future, Thou; my heaven and my salvation. 
Thou art my scriptures, my commandments; Thou art my ever gracious Guru; Thou the Spring of 
my boundless bliss. Thou art the Way, and Thou the Goal; Thou the Adorable One, Lord! Thou 
art the Mother tender-hearted; Thou the chastising Father; Thou the Creator and Protector; Thou 
the Helmsman who dost steer My craft across the sea of life. 

MASTER (to the devotees): "Ah! What a beautiful song!-'Thou art my All in All.' " 

Ramlal sang again, this time describing the pangs of the gopis on being separated from their 
beloved Krishna: 

Hold not, hold not the chariot's wheels! Is it the wheels that make it move? The Mover of its 
wheels is Krishna, By whose will the worlds are moved. . . . 

The Master went into deep samadhi. His body was motionless; he sat with folded hands as 
in his photograph. Tears of joy flowed from the corners of his eyes. After a long time his mind 
came down to the ordinary plane of consciousness. He mumbled something, of which only a word 
now and then could be heard by the devotees in the room. He was saying: "Thou art I, and I am 
Thou-Thou eatest-Thou-l eat! . . . What is this confusion Thou hast created?" 

Continuing, the Master said: "I see everything like a man with jaundiced eyes! I see Thee 
alone everywhere. Krishna, Friend of the lowly! Eternal Consort of my soul! Govinda!" 

As he uttered the words "Eternal Consort of my soul" and "Govinda", the Master again went 
into samadhi. There was complete silence in the room. The eager and unsatiated eyes of the 
devotees were fixed on the Master, a God-man of infinite moods. 

Adhar Sen arrived with several of his friends. He was a deputy magistrate, about thirty years 
old. This was his second visit to the Master. He was accompanied by his friend Saradacharan, who 
was extremely unhappy because of the death of his eldest son. A retired deputy inspector of 
schools, Saradacharan devoted himself to meditation and prayer. Adhar had brought his friend to 
the Master for consolation in his afflicted state of mind. 

Coming down from samadhi, the Master found the eyes of the devotees fixed on him. He 
muttered to himself, still in an abstracted mood. 


Then, addressing the devotees, Sri Ramakrishna said: "The spiritual wisdom of worldly 
people is seen only on rare occasions. It is like the flame of a candle. No, it is rather like a single ray 
of the sun passing through a chink in a wall. Worldly people chant the name of God, but there is no 
zeal behind it. It is like children's swearing by God, having learnt the word from the quarrels of 
their aunts. 

"Worldly people have no grit. If they succeed in an undertaking, it is all right, but if they 
don't succeed, it scarcely bothers them at all. When they need water, they begin to dig a well. But 
as soon as they strike a stone, they give up digging there and begin at another place. Perhaps they 
come to a bed of sand. Finding nothing but sand, they give that place up too. How can they 
succeed in getting water unless they continue to dig persistently where they started? 

"Man reaps the harvest of his own past actions. Hence you read in the song: 

Mother, I have no one else to blame: Alas! I sink in the well these very hands have dug. 

"T and 'mine'-that is ignorance. By discriminating you will realize that what you call T is 
really nothing but Atman. Reason it out. Are you the body or the flesh or something else? At the 
end you will know that you are none of these. You are free from attributes. Then you will realize 
that you have never been the doer of any action, that you have been free from virtue and faults 
alike, that you are beyond righteousness and unrighteousness. 

"From ignorance a man says, 'This is gold and this is brass.' But a man of Knowledge says, 'It 
is all gold.' 

"Reasoning stops when one sees God. But there are instances of people who have realized 
God and who still continue to reason. Again, there are people who, even after having seen God, 
chant His name with devotion and sing His glories. 

"How long does a child cry? So long as it is not sucking at its mother's breast. As soon as it is 
nursed it stops crying. Then the child feels only joy. Joyously it drinks the milk from its mother's 
breast. But it is also true that, while drinking, the child sometimes plays and laughs. 

"It is God alone who has become everything. But in man He manifests Himself the most. 
God is directly present in the man who has the pure heart of a child and who laughs and cries and 
dances and sings in divine ecstasy." 

By this time Sri Ramakrishna had become better acquainted with Adhar, who related the 
cause of his friend's grief. The Master sang, as if to himself: 

To arms! To arms, man! Death storms your house in battle array! Bearing the quiver of 
knowledge, mount the chariot of devotion; Bend the bow of your tongue with the bow-string of 
love, and aim at him the shaft of Mother Kali's holy name. Here is a ruse for the fray: You need no 
chariot or charioteer; Fight your foe from the Ganges' bank, and he is easily slain. 


Then he said: "What can you do? Be ready for Death. Death has entered the house. You 
must fight him with the weapon of God's holy name. God alone is the Doer. I say: '0 Lord, I do as 
Thou doest through me. I speak as Thou speakest through me. I am the machine and Thou art the 
Operator. I am the house and Thou art the Indweller. I am the engine and Thou art the Engineer.' 
Give your power of attorney to God. One doesn't come to grief through letting a good man assume 
one's responsibilities. Let His will be done. 

"But isn't your grief for your son only natural? The son is one's own self reborn. Lakshmana 
ran to Ravana when the latter fell dead on the battlefield. Looking at Ravana's body, he found that 
everyone of his bones was full of holes. Thereupon he said to Rama: '0 Rama, glory be to Your 
arrows! There is no spot in Ravana's body that they have not pierced.' 'Brother,' replied Rama, 'the 
holes you see in his bones are not from My arrows. Grief for his sons has pierced them through 
and through. These holes are the marks of his grief. It has penetrated his very bones.' 

"But house, wife, and children are all transitory; they have only a momentary existence. The 
palm-tree alone is real. One or two fruits have dropped off. Why lament? 

"God is engaged in three kinds of activity: creation, preservation, and destruction. Death is 
inevitable. All will be destroyed at the time of dissolution. Nothing will remain. At that time the 
Divine Mother will gather up the seeds for the future creation, even as the elderly mistress of the 
house keeps in her hotchpotch-pot little bags of cucumber seeds, 'sea-foam', blue pills, and other 
miscellaneous things. The Divine Mother will take Her seeds out again at the time of the new 

Sri Ramakrishna began to talk with Adhar on the verandah north of his room. 

MASTER (to Adhar): "You are a deputy magistrate. Remember that you have obtained your 
position through the grace of God. Do not forget Him, but remember that all men must one day 
walk down the same path. We stay in the world only a couple of days. 

"This world is our field of activity. We are born here to perform certain duties. People have 
their homes in the country but come to Calcutta to work. 

"It is necessary to do a certain amount of work. This is a kind of discipline. But one must 
finish it speedily. While melting gold, the goldsmith uses everything-the bellows, the fan, and the 
pipe-so that he may have the hot fire he needs to melt the metal. After the melting is over, he 
relaxes and asks his attendant to prepare a smoke for him. All this time his face has been hot and 
perspiring; but now he can smoke. 

"One must have stern determination; then alone is spiritual practice possible. One must 
make a firm resolve. 

"There is great power in the seed of God's name. It destroys ignorance. A seed is tender, 
and the sprout soft; still it pierces the hard ground. The ground breaks and makes way for the 

"The mind becomes very much distracted if one lives long in the midst of 'woman and gold'. 
Therefore one must be very careful. But monks do not have much to fear. The real sannyasi lives 
away from 'woman and gold'. Therefore through the practice of spiritual discipline he can always 
fix his mind on God. 

"True sannyasis, those who are able to devote their minds constantly to God, are like bees, 
which light only on flowers and sip their honey. Those who live in the world, in the midst of 
'woman and gold', may direct their attention to God; but sometimes their minds dwell also on 
'woman and gold'. They are like common flies, which light on a piece of candy, then on a sore or 

"Always keep your mind fixed on God. In the beginning you must struggle a little; later on 
you will enjoy your pension." 

Sunday, April 15, 1883 

Surendra, a beloved lay disciple of the Master, had invited him to his house on the 
auspicious occasion of the Annapurna Puja. It was about six o'clock when Sri Ramakrishna arrived 
there with some of his devotees. The image of the Divine Mother had been installed in the worship 
hall. At Her feet lay Hibiscus flowers and vilwa-leaves; from Her neck hung a garland of flowers. 
Sri Ramakrishna entered the hall and bowed down before the image. Then he went to the open 
courtyard, where he sat on a carpet, surrounded by his devotees and disciples. A few bolsters lay 
on the carpet, which was covered with a white linen sheet. He was asked to lean against one of 
these, but he pushed it aside. 


MASTER (to the devotees): "To lean against a bolster! You see, it is very difficult to give up 
vanity. You may discriminate, saying that the ego is nothing at all; but still it comes, nobody knows 
from where. A goat's legs jerk for a few moments even after its head has been cut off. Or perhaps 
you are frightened in a dream; you shake off sleep and are wide awake, but still you feel your heart 
palpitating. Egotism is exactly like that. You may drive it away, but still it appears from somewhere. 
Then you look sullen and say: 'What! I have not been shown proper respect!" 1 

KEDAR: "One should be lowlier than a straw and patient as a tree." 

MASTER: "As for me, I consider myself as a speck of the dust of the devotee's feet." 

Vaidyanath arrived. He was a well-educated man, a lawyer of the High Court of Calcutta. 
With folded hands he saluted the Master and took his seat at one side. 

SURENDRA (to the Master): "He is one of my relatives." 

MASTER: "Yes, I see he has a nice nature." 

SURENDRA: "He has come here because he wants to ask you a question or two." 


MASTER (to Vaidyanath): "All that you see is the manifestation of God's Power. No one can 
do anything without this Power. But you must remember that there is not an equal manifestation 
of God's Power in all things. Vidyasagar once asked me whether God endowed some with greater 
power than others. I said to him: 'If there are no greater and lesser manifestations of His Power, 
then why have we taken the trouble to visit you? Have you grown two horns?' So it stands to 
reason that God exists in all beings as the 

All-pervasive Power; but the manifestations of His Power are different in different beings." 


VAIDYANATH: "Sir, I have a doubt. People speak of free will. They say that a man can do 
either good or evil according to his will. Is it true? Are we really free to do whatever we like?" 

MASTER: "Everything depends on the will of God. The world is His play. He has created all 
these different things-great and small, strong and weak, good and bad, virtuous and vicious. This is 
all His maya, His sport. You must have observed that all the trees in a garden are not of the same 

"As long as a man has not realized God, he thinks he is free. It is God Himself who keeps this 
error in man. Otherwise sin would have multiplied. Man would not have been afraid of sin, and 
there would have been no punishment for it. 

"But do you know the attitude of one who has realized God? He feels: 'I am the machine, 
and Thou, Lord, art the Operator. I am the house and Thou art the Indweller. I am the chariot 
and Thou art the Driver. I move as Thou movest me; I speak as Thou makest me speak.' 

(To Vaidyanath): "It is not good to argue. Isn't that so?" 

VAIDYANATH: "Yes, sir. The desire to argue disappears when a man attains wisdom." 

The Master, out of his stock of a dozen English words, said, "Thank you!" in the most 
charming way, and all laughed. 

MASTER (to Vaidyanath): "You will make spiritual progress. People don't trust a man when 
he speaks about God. Even if a great soul affirms that he has seen God, still the average person will 
not accept his words. He says to himself, 'If this man has really seen God, then let him show Him to 

me.' But can a man learn to feel a person's pulse in one day? He must go about with a physician for 
many days; only then can he distinguish the different pulses. He must be in the company of those 
with whom the examination of the pulse has become a regular profession. 

"Can anyone and everyone pick out a yarn of a particular count? If you are in that trade, you 
can distinguish in a moment a forty-count thread from a forty-one." 

The kirtan was about to begin. Some Vaishnavas were seated on one side with their 
mridangas and cymbals. A drummer began to play on his instrument preparatory to the singing. 
The sweet and melodious sound of the mridanga filled the courtyard, calling to mind the ecstatic 
kirtan of Sri Gauranga. The Master passed into a deep spiritual state. Now and then he looked at 
the drummer and said, "Ah! Ah! My hair is all standing on end." 

The singers asked what kind of song they should sing. The Master said humbly, "Something 
about Gauranga, if you please." 

The kirtan began. They sang about the celestial beauty of Sri Gauranga: 

The beauty of Gauranga's face Glows brighter than the brightest gold; His smile illumines all 
the world. Who cares for even a million moons Shining in the blue autumn sky? 

The chief musician added improvised lines as they sang: "0 friend, his face shines like the 
full moon!" "But it does not wane nor has it any stain." "It illumines the devotee's heart." Again he 
improvised: "His face is bathed with the essence of a million moons." 

At these words the Master went into deep samadhi. After a short while he regained 
consciousness of the sense world. Then he suddenly stood up, overpowered by his spiritual mood, 
and sang improvised lines with the professionals, thinking himself to be a milkmaid of Vrindavan 
gone mad with the beauty of Sri Krishna's form: "Whose fault is it-my mind's or His beauty's?" "In 
the three worlds I see nothing but my beloved Krishna." 

The Master danced and sang. All remained spellbound as they watched. The chief musician 
sang the words of a gopi: "0 flute, pray stop. Can you not go to sleep?" One of the musicians 
added a new line: "How can it sleep? It rests on Krishna's lips." 

The Master sat down. The music went on. They sang, assuming the mood of Radha: "My 
eyes are blinded. My ears are deaf. I have lost the power of smell. All my senses are paralysed. But, 
alas, why am I left alone?" 

Finally the musicians sang of the union of Radha and Krishna: 

Radha and Krishna are joined at last in the Nidhu Grove of Vrindavan; Incomparable their 
beauty, and limitless their love! The one half shines like yellow gold, the other like bluest sapphire; 
Round the neck, on one side, a wild-flower garland hangs, and, on the other, there swings a 
necklace of precious gems. A ring of gold adorns one ear, a ring of shell the other; half of the brow 
is bright as the blazing midday sun, the other softly gleams with the glow of the rising moon. Upon 
one half of the head a graceful peacock feather stands, and, from the other half, there hangs a 
braid of hair. 

As the music came to a close the Master said, "Bhagavata-Bhakta-Bhagavan", and bowed 
low to the devotees seated on all sides. He touched with his forehead the ground made holy by 
the singing of the sacred music. 

It was now about half past nine in the evening. Surendra entertained the Master and the 
devotees with a sumptuous feast. When it was time to take leave of their host, the Master, the 
devotees, and Surendra entered the worship hall and stood before the image. 

SURENDRA (to the Master): "No one has sung anything about the Divine Mother today." 

MASTER (pointing to the image): "Ah! Look at the beauty of the hall. The light of the Divine 
Mother seems to have lighted the whole place. Such a sight fills the heart with joy. Grief and desire 
for pleasure disappear. 

"But can one not see God as formless Reality? Of course one can but not if one has the 
slightest trace of worldliness. The rishis of olden times renounced everything and then 
contemplated Satchidananda, the Indivisible Brahman. 

"The Brahmajnanis of modern times sing of God as 'immutable, homogeneous'. It sounds 
very dry to me. It seems as if the singers themselves don't enjoy the sweetness of God's Bliss. 
One doesn't want a refreshing drink made with sugar candy if one is satisfied with mere coarse 

"Just see how happy you are, looking at this image of the Deity. But those who always cry 
after the formless Reality do not get anything. They realize nothing either inside or outside." 

The Master sang a song to the Divine Mother: 

Mother, ever blissful as Thou art, does not deprive Thy worthless child of bliss! My mind 
knows nothing but Thy Lotus Feet. The King of Death scowls at me terribly; tell me, Mother, what 
shall I say to him? 

It was my heart's desire to sail my boat across the ocean of this mortal life, Durga, with 
Thy name upon my lips. I never dreamt that Thou wouldst drown me here in the dark waters of 
this shoreless sea. 

Both day and night I swim among its waves, chanting Thy saving name; yet even so there is 
no end, Mother, to my grief. If I am drowned this time, in such a plight, No one will ever chant 
Thy name again. 

Again he sang: 

Repeat, mind, my Mother Durga's hallowed name! Whoever treads the path, repeating 
"Durga! Durga!", Siva Himself protects with His almighty trident. Thou art the day, Mother! Thou 
art the dusk and the night. Sometimes Thou art man, and sometimes woman art Thou. Thou 
mayest even say to me: "Step aside! Go away!" Yet I shall cling to Thee, Durga! Unto Thy feet As 
Thine anklets I shall cling, making their tinkling sound. Mother, when as the Kite Thou soarest in 
the sky, there, in the water beneath, as a minnow I shall be swimming; upon me Thou wilt pounce, 

and pierce me through with Thy claws. Thus, when the breath of life forsakes me in Thy grip, do 
not deny me the shelter of Thy Lotus Feet! 

The Master saluted the divine image. As he came down the steps, he called softly to Rakhal: 
"Where are my shoes? Are they missing?" 

As the Master got into the carriage, Surendra and the other devotees bowed down before 
him. Then the carriage started for Dakshineswar. The moon still lighted the streets. 


April 22, 1883 

Master's visit to Brahmo festival 

SRI RAMAKRISHNA paid a visit to Benimadhav Pal's garden house at Sinthi, near Calcutta, on 
the occasion of the semi-annual festival of the Brahmo Samaj. Many devotees of the Samaj were 
present and sat around the Master. Now and then some of them asked him questions. 


A BRAHMO DEVOTEE: "Sir, what is the way?" MASTER: "Attachment to God, or, in other 
words, love for Him. And secondly, prayer." 

BRAHMO DEVOTEE: "Which one is the way-love or prayer?" 

MASTER: "First love, and then prayer." 

The Master sang: 

Cry to your Mother Syama with a real cry, mind ! And how can She hold Herself from you? 
How can Syama stay away? . . . 

Continuing, the Master said: "And one must always chant the name and glories of God and 
pray to Him. An old metal pot must be scrubbed every day. What is the use of cleaning it only 
once? Further, one must practise discrimination and renunciation; one must be conscious of the 
unreality of the world." 

BRAHMO: "Is it good to renounce the world?" 

MASTER: "Not for all. Those who have not yet come to the end of their enjoyments should 
not renounce the world. Can one get drunk on two annas' worth of wine?" 


BRAHMO: "Then should they lead a worldly life?" MASTER: "Yes, they should try to perform 
their duties in a detached way. Before you break the jack-fruit open, rub your hands with oil, so 
that the sticky milk will not smear them. The maidservant in a rich man's house performs all her 
duties, but her mind dwells on her home in the country. This is an example of doing duty in a 

detached way. You should renounce the world only in mind. But a sannyasi should renounce the 
world both inwardly and outwardly." 

BRAHMO: "What is the meaning of the 'end of enjoyments'?" 

MASTER: "I mean the enjoyment of 'woman and gold'. It is risky to put a typhoid patient in a 
room where pitchers of water and jugs of pickled tamarind are kept. Most people don't feel any 
longing for God unless they have once passed through the experience of wealth, name, fame, 
creature comforts, and the like, that is to say, unless they have seen through these enjoyments." 

BRAHMO: "Who is really bad, man or woman?" 

MASTER: "As there are women endowed with vidyaSakti, so also there are women with 
avidyaSakti. A woman endowed with spiritual attributes leads a man to God, but a woman who is 
the embodiment of delusion makes him forget God and drowns him in the ocean of worldliness. 

"This universe is created by the Mahamaya of God. Mahamaya contains both Vidyamaya, 
the illusion of knowledge, and Avidya-maya, the illusion of ignorance. Through the help of 
Vidya-maya one cultivates such virtues as the taste for holy company, knowledge, devotion, love, 
and renunciation. Avidya-maya consists of the five elements and the objects of the five senses- 
form, flavour, smell, touch, and sound. These make one forget God." 


BRAHMO: "If the power of avidya is the cause of ignorance, then why has God created it?" 

MASTER: "That is His play. The glory of light cannot be appreciated without darkness. 
Happiness cannot be understood without misery. Knowledge of good is possible because of 
knowledge of evil. 

"Further, the mango grows and ripens on account of the covering skin. You throwaway the 
skin when the mango is fully ripe and ready to be eaten. It is possible for a man to attain gradually 
to the Knowledge of Brahman because of the covering skin of maya. Maya in its aspects of vidya 
and avidya may be likened to the skin of the mango. Both are necessary." 

BRAHMO: "Sir, is it good to worship God with form, an image of the Deity made of clay?" 

MASTER: "You do not accept God with form. That is all right. The image is not meant for 
you. For you it is good to deepen your feeling toward your own Ideal. From the worshippers of the 
Personal God you should learn their yearning-for instance, Sri Krishna's attraction for Radha. You 
should learn from the worshippers of the Personal God their love for their Chosen Ideal. When the 
believers in the Personal God worship the images of Kali and Durga, with what feeling they cry 
from the depths of their souls, 'Mother! Mother!' How much they love the Deity! You should 
accept that feeling. You don't have to accept the image." 

BRAHMO: "How does one cultivate the spirit of dispassion? Why don't all attain it?" 

MASTER: "Dispassion is not possible unless there is satiety through enjoyment. You can 
easily cajole a small child with candies or toys. But after eating the candies and finishing its play, it 

cries, 'I want to go to my mother.' Unless you take the child to its mother, it will throw away the 
toy and scream at the top of its voice." 

The members of the Brahmo Samaj are opposed to the traditional guru system of orthodox 
Hinduism. Therefore the Brahmo devotee asked the Master about it. 


BRAHMO: "Is spiritual knowledge impossible without a guru?" MASTER: "Satchidananda 
alone is the Guru. If a man in the form of a guru awakens spiritual consciousness in you, then know 
for certain that it is God the Absolute who has assumed that human form for your sake. The guru is 
like a companion who leads you by the hand. After the realization of God, one loses the distinction 
between the guru and the disciple. 'That creates a very difficult situation; there the guru and the 
disciple do not see each other.' It was for this reason that Janaka said to Sukadeva, 'Give me first 
my teacher's fee if you want me to initiate you into the Knowledge of Brahman.' For the distinction 
between the teacher and the disciple ceases to exist after the disciple attains to Brahman. The 
relationship between them remains as long as the disciple does not see God." 

It was dusk. Some of the Brahmo devotees said to the Master, "Perhaps it is time for your 
evening devotions." 

MASTER: "No, it isn't exactly that. One should pass through these disciplines in the 
beginning. Later one doesn't need the rituals of formal worship or to follow the injunctions." 

After dusk the preacher of the Brahmo Samaj conducted the service from the pulpit. The 
service was interspersed with recitations from the Upanishads and the singing of Brahmo songs. 

After the service the Master and the preacher conversed. 


MASTER: "Well, it seems to me that both the formless Deity and God with form are real. 
What do you say?" PREACHER: "Sir, I compare the formless God to the electric current, which is 
not seen with the eyes but can be felt." 

MASTER: "Yes, both are true. God with form is as real as God without form. Do you know 
what describing God as being formless only is like? It is like a man's playing only a monotone on his 
flute, though it has seven holes. But on the same instrument another man plays different 
melodies. Likewise, in how many ways the believers in a Personal God enjoy Him! They enjoy Him 
through many different attitudes: the serene attitude, the attitude of a servant, a friend, a mother, 
a husband, or a lover. 

"You see, the thing is somehow or other to get into the Lake of the Nectar of Immortality. 
Suppose one person gets into It by propitiating the Deity with hymns and worship, and you are 
pushed into It. The result will be the same. Both of you will certainly become immortal. 

"I give the Brahmos the illustration of water and ice. Satchidananda is like an endless 
expanse of water. The water of the great ocean in cold regions freezes into blocks of ice. Similarly, 

through the cooling influence of divine love, Satchidananda assumes forms for the sake of the 
bhaktas. The rishis had the vision of the supersensuous Spirit-form and talked with It. But devotees 
acquire a 'love body', and with its help they see the Spirit-form of the Absolute. 

"It is also said in the Vedas that Brahman is beyond mind and words. The heat of the sun of 
Knowledge melts the ice-like form of the Personal God. On attaining the Knowledge of Brahman 
and communing with It in nirvikalpa samadhi, one realizes Brahman, the Infinite, without form or 
shape and beyond mind and words. 


"The nature of Brahman cannot be described. About It one remains silent. Who can explain 
the Infinite in words? However high a bird may soar, there are regions higher still. What do you 

PREACHER: "Yes, sir, it is so stated in the Vedanta philosophy." 

MASTER: "Once a salt doll went to the ocean to measure its depth. But it could not come 
back to give a report. According to one school of thought, sages like Sukadeva saw and touched 
the Ocean of Brahman, but did not plunge into It. 

"Once I said to Vidyasagar, 'Everything else but Brahman has been polluted, as it were, like 
food touched by the tongue.' In other words, no one has been able to describe what Brahman is. 
A thing once uttered by the tongue becomes polluted. Vidyasagar, great pundit though he was, 
was highly pleased with my remarks. 

"It is said that there are places near Kedar that are covered with eternal snow; he who 
climbs too high cannot come back. Those who have tried to find out what there is in the higher 
regions, or what one feels there, have not come back to tell us about it. 

"After having the vision of God man is overpowered with bliss. He becomes silent. Who 
will speak? Who will explain? 

"The king lives beyond seven gates. At each gate sits a man endowed with great power and 
glory. At each gate the visitor asks, 'Is this the king?' The gate-keeper answers, 'No. Not this, not 
this.' The visitor passes through the seventh gate and. becomes overpowered with joy. He is 
speechless. This time he doesn't have to ask, 'Is this the king?' The mere sight of him removes all 

PREACHER: "Yes, sir, it is so described in Vedanta." 

MASTER: "When the Godhead is thought of as creating, preserving, and destroying, It is 
known as the Personal God, Saguna Brahman, or the Primal Energy, Adyasakti. Again, when It is 
thought of as beyond the three gunas, then It is called the Attributeless Reality, Nirguna Brahman, 
beyond speech and thought; this is the Supreme Brahman, Parabrahman. 


"Under the spell of God's maya man forgets his true nature. He forgets that he is heir to the 
infinite glories of his Father. This divine maya is made up of three gunas. And all three are robbers; 
for they rob man of all his treasures and make him forget his true nature. The three gunas are 
sattva, rajas, and tamas. Of these, sattva alone points the way to God. But even sattva cannot take 
a man to God. 


"Let me tell you a story. Once a rich man was passing through a forest, when three robbers 
surrounded him and robbed him of all his wealth. After snatching all his possessions from him, one 
of the robbers said: 'What's the good of keeping the man alive? Kill him.' Saying this, he was about 
to strike their victim with his sword, when the second robber interrupted and said: 'There's no use 
in killing him. Let us bind him fast and leave him here. Then he won't be able to tell the police.' 
Accordingly the robbers tied him with a rope, left him, and went away. 

"After a while the third robber returned to the rich man and said: 'Ah! You're badly hurt, 
aren't you? Come, I'm going to release you.' The third robber set the man free and led him out of 
the forest. When .they came near the highway, the robber said, 'Follow this road and you will 
reach home easily.' 'But you must come with me too', said the man. 'You have done so much for 
me. We shall all be happy to see you at our home.' 'No,' said the robber, 'it is not possible for me 
to go there. The police will arrest me.' So saying, he left the rich man after pointing out his way. 

"Now, the first robber, who said: 'What's the good of keeping the man alive? Kill him', is 
tamas. It destroys. The second robber is rajas, which binds a man to the world and entangles him 
in a variety of activities. Rajas makes him forget God. Sattva alone shows the way to God. It 
produces virtues like compassion, righteousness, and devotion. Again, sattva is like the last step of 
the stairs. Next to it is the roof. The Supreme Brahman is man's own abode. One cannot attain 
the Knowledge of Brahman unless one transcends the three gunas." 

PREACHER: "You have given us a fine talk, sir." 

MASTER (with a smile): "Do you know the nature of devotees? When one devotee meets 
another, he says, 'Let me speak and you listen; and when you speak I shall listen.' You are a 
preacher and teach so many people! You are a steamship, and I am a mere fishing-boat.' (All 

Wednesday, May 2, 1883 

About five o'clock in the afternoon Sri Ramakrishna arrived at the temple of the Brahmo 
Samaj in Nandanbagan, accompanied by M., Rakhal, and a few other devotees. At first the Master 
sat in the drawing-room on the ground floor, where the Brahmo devotees gradually assembled. 
Rabindranath Tagore and a few other members of the Tagore family were present on this 

Sri Ramakrishna was asked to go to the worship hall on the second floor. A dais had been 
built on the eastern side of the room. There were a few chairs and a piano in the hall. The Brahmo 
worship was to begin at dusk. 


As soon as the Master entered the worship hall he bowed low before the dais. Having taken 
his seat, he said to M. and the other devotees, "Narendra once asked me, 'What good is there in 
bowing before the Brahmo Samaj temple?' The sight of the temple recalls to my mind God alone; 
then God-Consciousness is kindled in my mind. God is present where people talk about Him. One 
feels there the presence of all the holy places. Places of worship recall God alone to my mind. 

"Once a devotee was overwhelmed with ecstasy at the sight of a babla-tree. The idea 
flashed in his mind that the handle of the axe used in the garden of the temple of Radhakanta was 
made from the wood of the babla. Another devotee had such devotion for his guru that he 
would be overwhelmed with divine feeling at the sight of his guru's neighbours. 
Krishna-consciousness would be kindled in Radha's mind at the sight of a cloud, a blue dress, or a 
painting of Krishna. She would become restless and cry like a mad person, 'Krishna, where art 
Thou?' " 

GHOSAL: "But madness is not desirable." 

MASTER: "What do you mean? Was Radha's madness the madness that comes from 
brooding over worldly objects and makes one unconscious? One attains that madness by 
meditating on God. Haven't you heard of love-madness and knowledge-madness?" 

A BRAHMO DEVOTEE: "How can one realize God?" 

MASTER: "By directing your love to Him and constantly reasoning that God alone is real and 
the world illusory. The Aswattha tree alone is permanent; its fruit is transitory." 


BRAHMO: "We have passions like anger and lust. What shall we do with these?" MASTER: 
"Direct the six passions to God. The impulse of lust should be turned into the desire to have 
intercourse with Atman. Feel angry at those who stand in your way to God. Feel greedy for Him. 
If you must have the feeling of I and Mine, then associate it with God. Say, for instance, 'My Rama, 
my Krishna.' If you must have pride, then feel like Bibhishana, who said, 'I have touched the feet of 
Rama with my head; I will not bow this head before anyone else.'" 


BRAHMO: "If it is God that makes me do everything, then I am not responsible for my sins." 
MASTER (with a smile): "Yes, Duryodhana also said that. '0 Krishna, I do what Thou, seated in my 
heart, makest me do.' If a man has the firm conviction that God alone is the Doer and he is His 
instrument, then he cannot do anything sinful. He who has learnt to dance correctly never 
makes a false step. One cannot even believe in the existence of God until one's heart becomes 

Sri Ramakrishna looked at the devotees assembled in the worship hall and said: "It is very 
good to gather in this way, now and then, and think of God and sing His name and glories. But the 
worldly man's yearning for God is momentary. It lasts as long as a drop of water on a red-hot 


The worship was about to begin, and the big hall was filled with Brahmo devotees. Some of 
the Brahmo ladies sat on chairs, with music books in their hands. The songs of the Brahmo Samaj 
were sung to the accompaniment of harmonium and piano. Sri Ramakrishna's joy was unbounded. 
The invocation was followed by a prayer, and then the worship began. The acharyas, seated on the 
platform, recited from the Vedas: 

Om. Thou art our Father. Give us right knowledge; do not destroy us! We bow to Thee. 

The Brahmo devotees chanted in chorus with the acharyas: Om. Brahman is Truth, 
Knowledge, Infinity. It shines as Bliss and Immortality. Brahman is Peace, Blessedness, and the One 
without a Second; It is pure and unstained by sin. 

The acharyas chanted in praise of God: 

Om. Reality, Cause of the Universe, we bow to Thee! 

Then the acharyas chanted their prayer together: 

From the unreal lead us to the Real; from darkness lead us to Light; from death lead us to 
Immortality. Reach us through and through, Rudra, and protect us evermore with Thy 
Compassionate Face. 

As Sri Ramakrishna heard these hymns, he went into a spiritual mood. After this an Acharya 
read a paper. 

The worship was over. Most of the devotees went downstairs or to the courtyard for fresh 
air while the refreshments were being made ready. It was about nine o'clock in the evening. The 
hosts were so engrossed with the other invited guests that they forgot to pay any attention to Sri 

MASTER (to Rakhal and the other devotees): "What's the matter? Nobody is paying any 
attention to us!" 

RAKHAL (angrily): "Sir, Let us leave here and go to Dakshineswar." 

MASTER (with a smile): "Keep quiet! The carriage hire is three rupees and two annas. Who 
will pay that? Stubbornness won't get us anywhere. You haven't a penny, and you are making 
these empty threats! Besides, where shall we find food at this late hour of the night?" 

After a long time dinner was announced. The devotees were asked to take their seats. The 
Master, with Rakhal and the others, followed the crowd to the second floor. No room could be 
found for him inside the hall. Finally, with great difficulty, a place was found for him in a dusty 

corner. A brahmin woman served some curry, but Sri Ramakrishna could not eat it. He ate luchi 
with salt and took some sweets. 

There was no limit to the Master's kindness. The hosts were mere youngsters; how could he 
be displeased with them, even though they did not show him proper respect? Further, it would 
have been inauspicious for the household if a holy man had left the place without taking food. 
Finally the feast had been prepared in the name of God. 

Sri Ramakrishna got into a carriage: but who was to pay the hire? The hosts could not be 
found. Referring to this incident afterwards, the Master said to the devotees, jokingly: "The boys 
went to our hosts for the carriage hire. First they were put out, but at last they managed to get 
together three rupees. Our hosts refused to pay the extra two annas and said, 'No, that will do.' " 

Sunday, May 13, 1883 

The Master paid a visit to the Hari-Bhakti-Pradayini-Sabha of Kansharipara, in Calcutta, on 
the anniversary day of that religious society. Kirtan and other forms of devotional music had been 
arranged for the occasion. The songs centred round the Vrindavan episode of Sri Krishna's life. The 
theme was Radha's pique because of Sri Krishna's having visited Chandravali, another of the gopis 
of Vrindavan. Radha's friends tried to console her and said to her: "Why are you piqued? It seems 
you are not thinking of Krishna's happiness, but only of your own." Radha said to them: "I am not 
angry at His going to Chandravali's grove. But why should He go there? She doesn't know how to 
take care of Him." 

May 20,1883 

The following Sunday a kirtan was arranged at the house of Ram, one of the Master's 
householder devotees. Sri Ramakrishna graced the occasion with his presence. The musicians sang 
about Radha's pangs at her separation from Krishna: 

Radha said to her friends: "I have loved to see Krishna from my childhood. My fingernails 
are worn off from counting the days on them till I shall see Him. Once He gave me a garland. Look, 
it has withered, but I have not yet thrown it away. Alas! Where has the Moon of Krishna risen 
now? Has that Moon gone away from my firmament, afraid of the Rahu of my pique? Alas! Shall I 
ever see Krishna again? my beloved Krishna, I have never been able to look at You to my heart's 
complete satisfaction. I have only one pair of eyes; they blink and so hinder my vision. And further, 
on account of streams of tears I could not see enough of my Beloved. The peacock feather on the 
crown of His head shines like arrested lightning. The peacocks, seeing Krishna's dark-cloud 
complexion, would dance in joy, spreading their tails. friends, I shall not be able to keep my 
life-breath. After my death, place my body on a branch of the dark tamala tree and inscribe on my 
body Krishna's sweet name." 

The Master said: "God and His name are identical; that is the reason Radha said that. There 
is no difference between Rama and His holy name." 

May 27, 1883 

Sri Ramakrishna was in his room at Dakshineswar, conversing with the devotees. It was 
about nine o'clock in the morning. 


MASTER (to M. and the other devotees): "It is not good to harbour malice. The Saktas, the 
Vaishnavas, and the Vedantists quarrel among themselves. That is not wise. Padmalochan was 
court pundit of the Maharaja of Burdwan. Once at a meeting the pundits were discussing whether 
Siva was superior to Brahma, or Brahma to Siva. Padmalochan gave an appropriate reply. 'I don't 
know anything about it', said he. 'I haven't talked either to Siva or to Brahma.' 


"If people feel sincere longing, they will find that all paths lead to God. But one should have 
nishtha, single-minded devotion. It is also described as chaste and unswerving devotion to God. 
It is like a tree with only one trunk shooting straight up. Promiscuous devotion is like a tree with 
five branches. 

Such was the single-minded devotion of the gopis to Krishna that they didn't care to look at 
anyone but the Krishna they had seen at Vrindavan-the Shepherd Krishna, bedecked with a 
garland of yellow wild-flowers and wearing a peacock feather on His crest. At the sight of Krishna 
at Mathura with a turban on His head and dressed in royal robes, the gopis pulled down their veils. 
They would not look at His face. 'Who is this man?' they said. 'Should we violate our chaste love 
for Krishna by talking to him?' 

"The devotion of the wife to her husband is also an instance of unswerving love. She feeds 
her brothers-in-law as well, and looks after their comforts, but she has a special relationship with 
her husband. Likewise, one may have that single-minded devotion to one's own religion; but one 
should not on that account hate other faiths. On the contrary, one should have a friendly attitude, 
toward them." 

The Master bathed in the Ganges and then went to the Kali temple with M. He sat before 
the image and offered flowers at the feet of the Divine Mother. Now and then he put flowers on 
his own head and meditated. 

After a long time he stood up. He was in a spiritual mood and danced before the image, 
chanting the name of Kali. Now and again he said: "0 Mother! Destroyer of suffering! 
Remover of grief and agony!" Was he teaching people thus to pray to the Mother of the Universe 
with a yearning heart, in order to get rid of the suffering inevitable in physical life? 

Sri Ramakrishna returned to his room and sat on the west porch. Rakhal, M., Nakur 
Vaishnav, and other devotees were with him. Nakur had been known to the Master for about 
twenty-five years. He was a devotee of Gauranga and had a small shop which Sri Ramakrishna had 
often visited when he first came to Calcutta from Kamarpukur. 

Still overpowered with divine ecstasy, the Master sang: 

Kali, my Mother full of Bliss! Enchantress of the almighty Siva! In Thy delirious joy Thou 
dancest, clapping Thy hands together! Eternal One! Thou great First Cause, clothed in the form of 
the Void Thou wearest the moon upon Thy brow, Where didst Thou find Thy garland of heads 
before the universe was made? Thou art the Mover of all that move, and we are but Thy helpless 
toys; We move alone as Thou movest us and speak as through us Thou speakest. But worthless 
Kamalakanta says, fondly berating Thee: Confoundress! With Thy flashing sword Thoughtlessly 
Thou hast put to death my virtue and my sin alike! 

He sang again: 

Mother, Thou art our sole Redeemer, Thou the Support of the three gunas, Higher than the 
most high. Thou art compassionate, I know, Who takest away our bitter grief. Sandhya art Thou, 
and Gayatri; Thou dost sustain this universe. Mother, the Help art Thou Of those that have no help 
but Thee, Eternal Beloved of Siva! 

Thou art in earth, in water Thou; Thou liest at the root of all. In me, in every creature, 

Thou hast Thy home; though clothed with form, yet art Thou formless Reality. 

The Master sang a few more songs in praise of the Divine Mother. Then he said to the 
devotees: "It is not always best to tell householders about the sorrows of life. They want bliss. 
Those who suffer from chronic poverty can go without food for a day or two. But it is not wise to 
talk about the sorrows and miseries of life to those who suffer if their food is delayed a few 
minutes. Vaishnavcharan used to say: 'Why should one constantly dwell on sin? Be merry!' " 

While the Master was resting after his midday meal, Manohor Goswami, a singer of kirtan, 
arrived. He sang about the ecstatic love of Gauranga and the divine episode of Vrindavan. The 
Master was absorbed in a deep spiritual mood. He tore off his shirt and said, to the melody of the 
kirtan, assuming the attitude of Radha: "0 Krishna, my Beloved! friends, bring Krishna to me. 
Then you will be real friends. Or take me to Him, and I will be your slave for ever." 

The musician sat spellbound at Sri Ramakrishna's ecstasy; then he said with folded hands, 
"Won't you please rid me of my worldliness?" 

MASTER: "You are like the holy man who went about the city after first finding a lodging. 
You are a sweet person and express many sweet ideas." 

MUSICIAN: "Sir, I am like the bullock that only carries the bag of sugar but cannot taste it. 
Alas, I myself do not enjoy the sweetness of divine bliss." 

The melodious music went on, and all were filled with joy. 

Saturday, June 2, 1883 

Sri Ramakrishna had been invited to visit the homes of his devotees Balaram, Adhar, and 
Ram in Calcutta. Devotional music had been arranged by Adhar and Ram. The Master was 
accompanied in the carriage by Rakhal, M., and others. 

As they drove along, Sri Ramakrishna said to the devotees: "You see, sin flies away when 
love of God grows in a man's heart, even as the water of the reservoir dug in a meadow dries up 
under the heat of the sun. But one cannot love God if one feels attracted to worldly things, to 
'woman and gold'. Merely taking the vow of monastic life will not help a man if he is attached to 
the world. It is like swallowing your own spittle after spitting it out on the ground." 

After a few minutes the Master continued: 'The members of the Brahmo Samaj do not 
accept God with form. Narendra says that God with form is a mere idol. He says further: 'What? He 
still goes to the Kali temple!'" 

Sri Ramakrishna and his party arrived at Balaram's house. Yajnanath of Nandanbagan 
came to invite the Master to his house at four o'clock in the afternoon. Sri Ramakrishna agreed to 
go if he felt well. After Yajnanath's departure the Master went into an ecstatic mood. He said to 
the Divine Mother: "Mother, what is all this? Stop! What are these things Thou art showing to me? 
What is it that Thou dost reveal to me through Rakhal and others? The form is disappearing. But, 
Mother, what people call 'man' is only a pillow-case, nothing but a pillow-case. Consciousness is 
Thine alone. 

"The modern Brahmajnanis have not tasted Thy sweet bliss. Their eyes look dry and so do 
their faces. They won't achieve anything without ecstatic love of God. 

"Mother, once I asked Thee to give me a companion just like myself. Is that why Thou hast 
given me Rakhal?" 

The Master went to Adhar's house, where arrangements were being made for the kirtan. 
Many devotees and neighbours had gathered in Adhar's drawing-room, anxious to listen to the 
Master's words. 


MASTER (to the devotees): "Both worldliness and liberation depend on God's will. It is God 
alone who has kept man in the world in a state of ignorance; and man will be free when God, of 
His own sweet will, calls him to Himself. It is like the mother calling the child at meal-time, when 
he is out playing. When the time comes for setting a man free, God makes him seek the company 
of holy men. Further, it is God who makes him restless for spiritual life." 

A NEIGIHBOUR: "What kind of restlessness, sir?" 

MASTER: "Like the restlessness of a clerk who has lost his job. He makes the round of the 
offices daily and asks whether there is any vacancy. When that restlessness comes, man longs for 
God. A fop, seated comfortably with one leg over the other, chewing betel-leaf and twirling his 
moustaches-a carefree dandy-, cannot attain God." 

NEIGHBOUR: "Can one get this longing for God through frequenting the company of holy 


MASTER: "Yes, it is possible. But not for a confirmed scoundrel. A sannyasi's kamandalu, 
made of bitter gourd, travels with him to the four great places of pilgrimage but still does not lose 
its bitterness." 

The kirtan began. The musician sang of Sri Krishna's life in Vrindavan: 
RADHA: "Friend, I am about to die. Give me back my Krishna." 

FRIEND: "But, Radha; the cloud of Krishna was ready to burst into rain. It was yourself who 
blew it away with the strong wind of your pique. You are certainly not happy to see Krishna happy; 
or why were you piqued?" 

RADHA: "But this pride was not mine. My pride has gone away with Him who made me 

After the music Sri Ramakrishna conversed with the devotees. 

MASTER: "The gopis worshipped Katyayani in order to be united with Sri Krishna. Everyone 
is under the authority of the Divine Mother, Mahamaya, the Primal Energy. Even the Incarnations 
of God accept the help of maya to fulfil their mission on earth. Therefore they worship the Primal 
Energy. Don't you see how bitterly Rama wept for Sita? 'Brahman weeps, ensnared in the meshes 
of maya.' 

"Vishnu incarnated Himself as a sow in order to kill the demon Hiranyaksha. After killing the 
demon, the sow remained quite happy with her young ones. Forgetting her real nature, she was 
suckling them very contentedly. The gods in heaven could not persuade Vishnu to relinquish His 
sow's body and return to the celestial regions. He was absorbed in the happiness of His beast 
form. After consulting among themselves, the gods sent Siva to the sow. Siva asked the sow, 
'Why have you forgotten yourself?' Vishnu replied through the sow's body, 'Why, I am quite happy 
here.' Thereupon with a stroke of his trident Siva destroyed the sow's body, and Vishnu went back 
to heaven." 

Ramchandra Dutta 

From Adhar's house Sri Ramakrishna went to Ram's house. Ramchandra Dutta, one of the 
chief householder disciples of the Master, lived in Calcutta. He had been one of the first to 
announce the Master as an Incarnation of God. The Master had visited his house a number of 
times and unstintingly praised the devotion and generosity of this beloved disciple. A few of the 
Master's disciples made Ram's house virtually their own dwelling-place. 

Ram had arranged a special festival to celebrate the Master's visit. The small courtyard was 
nicely decorated. A kathak, seated on a raised platform, was reciting from the Bhagavata when the 
Master arrived. Ram greeted him respectfully and seated him near the reader. The disciple was 
extremely happy. The kathak was in the midst of the story of King Harischandra. 


The great King Harischandra of the Purana was the embodiment of generosity. No one ever 
went away from him empty-handed. Now, the sage Viswamitra, wanting to test the extent of the 
king's charity, extracted from him a promise to grant any boon that he might ask. Then the sage 
asked for the gift of the sea-girt world, of which Harischandra was king. Without the slightest 
hesitation the king gave away his kingdom. Then Viswamitra demanded the auxiliary fee, which 
alone makes charity valid and meritorious. The kathak continued his recitation: 

Viswamitra said to the king: "0 King, you have given away the entire world, which was your 
kingdom. It now belongs to me; you cannot claim any place here. But you may live in Benares, 
which belongs to Siva. I shall lead you there with your wife Saibya, and Rohitasva, your son. There 
you can procure the auxiliary fee that you owe me." The royal family, accompanied by the sage, 
reached Benares and visited the temple of Siva. 

At the very mention of Siva, the Master went into spiritual mood and repeated the holy 
name several times indistinctly. 

The kathak continued: 

The king could not procure the fee and was compelled to sell Saibya, his royal consort, to a 
brahmin. With her went Prince Rohitasva. But since even that was not enough to redeem his 
pledge to the sage, Harischandra sold himself to an untouchable who kept a cremation ground. 
He was ordered to supervise the cremations. One day, while plucking flowers for his brahmin 
master, Prince Rohitasva was bitten by a venomous snake and that very night died. The cruel 
brahmin would not leave his bed to help the poor mother cremate the body. The night was dark 
and stormy. Lightning rent the black clouds. Saibya started for the cremation ground alone, 
carrying the body of her son in her arms. Smitten with fear and overpowered with grief, the queen 
filled heaven and earth with her wailing. Arriving at the cremation ground, she did not recognize 
her husband, who demanded the usual fee for the cremation. Saibya was penniless and wept 
bitterly at her unending misfortunes. The impenetrable darkness was illumined only by the terrible 
flames of the cremation pyres. Above her the thunder roared, and before her the uncouth 
guardian of the cremation ground demanded his fee. She who had once been queen of the world 
sat there with her only child dead and cold on her lap. 

The devotees burst into tears and loudly lamented this tragic episode of a royal life. And 
what was the Master doing? He was listening to the recital with rapt attention. Teardrops 
appeared in his eyes and he wiped them away. 

The kathak continued: 

When the queen, wailing bitterly, uttered the name of her husband, Harischandra at once 
recognized his wife and son. Then the two wept for the dead prince. Yet in all these misfortunes 
the king never once uttered a word of regret for his charity. Finally the sage Viswamitra appeared 
and told them that he had only wanted to put the king's charitable impulses to a crucial test. Then, 
through his spiritual power, the sage brought the prince back to life and returned to the king his 
lost kingdom. 


Sri Ramakrishna asked the kathak to recite the episode of Uddhava, the friend and devotee 
of Krishna. At the request of Krishna, Uddhava had gone to Vrindavan to console the cowherds and 
the gopis, who were sore at heart because of their separation from their beloved Krishna. 

The Kathak said: 

When Uddhava arrived at Vrindavan, the gopis and cowherd boys ran to him eagerly and 
asked him: "How is our Krishna? Has He forgotten us altogether? Doesn't He even speak our 
names?" So saying, some of them wept. Others accompanied him to various places in Vrindavan 
still filled with Krishna's sweet memory. They said: "Here it was that 

Krishna lifted up Mount Govardhan, and here He killed the demons sent by the evil-minded 
Kamsa. In this meadow He tended His cows; here on the bank of the Jamuna He sported with the 
gopis. Here He played with the cowherd boys, and here in these groves He met the gopis secretly." 
Uddhava said to them: "Why are you so grief-stricken at Krishna's absence? He resides in all beings 
as their indwelling Spirit. He is God Himself, and nothing can exist without God." "But", said the 
gopis, "we do not understand all that. We can neither read nor write. We know only our Krishna of 
Vrindavan, who played with us here in so many ways." Uddhava said: "Krishna is God Himself. By 
meditating on Him, man escapes from birth and death in the world and attains liberation." The 
gopis said: "We do not understand big words like 'liberation'. We want to see the Krishna of our 

The Master listened to the story from the Bhagavata with great attention and said at last, 
"Yes, the gopis were right." 

Then he sang: 

Though I am never loath to grant salvation, I hesitate indeed, to grant pure love. Whoever 
wins pure love surpasses all; He is adored by men; He triumphs over the three worlds. 

Listen, Chandravali! I shall tell you of love: Mukti a man may gain, but rare is bhakti. Solely 
for pure love's sake did I become King Vali's door-keeper Down in his realm in the nether world. 

Alone in Vrindavan can pure love be found; Its secret none but the gopas and gopis know. 
For pure love's sake I dwelt in Nanda's house; Taking him as My father, I carried his burdens on My 

The Master said to the kathak: "The gopis had ecstatic love, unswerving and single-minded 
devotion to one ideal. Do you know the meaning of devotion that is not loyal to one ideal? It is 
devotion tinged with intellectual knowledge. It makes one feel: 'Krishna has become all these. He 
alone is the Supreme Brahman. He is Rama, Siva, and Sakti.' But this element of knowledge is not 
present in ecstatic love of God. Once Hanuman came to Dwaraka and wanted to see Sita and 
Rama. Krishna said to Rukmini, His queen, 'You had better assume the form of Sita; otherwise 
there will be no escape from the hands of Hanuman.' 

"Once the Pandava brothers performed the Rajasuya sacrifice. All the kings placed 
Yudhisthira on the royal throne and bowed low before him in homage. But Bibhishana, the King of 
Ceylon, said, 'I bow down to Narayana and to none else.' At these words the 

Lord Krishna bowed down to Yudhisthira. Only then did Bibhishana prostrate himself, crown 
and all, before him. 

"Do you know what devotion to one ideal is like? It is like the attitude of a daughter-inlaw in 
the family. She serves all the members of the family-her brothers-in-law, fatherin-law, husband, 
and so forth-, bringing them water to wash their feet, fetching their towels, arranging their seats, 
and the like; but with her husband she has a special relationship. 


"There are two elements in this ecstatic love: 'l-ness' and 'my-ness'. Yasoda used to think: 
'Who would look after Gopala if I did not? He will fall ill if I do not serve Him.' She did not look on 
Krishna as God. The other element is 'my-ness'. It means to look on God as one's own-'my Gopala'. 
Uddhava said to Yasoda: 'Mother, your Krishna is God Himself. He is the Lord of the Universe and 
not a common human being.' 'Oh!' exclaimed Yasoda. 'I am not asking you about your Lord of the 
Universe. I want to know how my Gopala fares. Not the Lord of the Universe, but my Gopala.' 

"How faithful to Krishna the gopis were! After many entreaties to the door-keeper, the 
gopis entered the royal court in Mathura, where Krishna was seated as king. The doorkeeper took 
them to Him; but at the sight of King Krishna wearing the royal turban, the gopis bent down their 
heads and said among themselves: 'Who is this man with a turban on his head? Should we violate 
our chaste love for Krishna by talking to him? Where is our beloved Krishna with the yellow robe 
and the bewitching crest with the peacock feather?' 

"Did you observe the single-minded love of the gopis for Krishna? The ideal of Vrindavan is 
unique. I am told that the people of Dwaraka worship Krishna, the companion of Arjuna, but reject 

A DEVOTEE: "Which is the better, ecstatic love or love mixed with knowledge?" 


MASTER: "It is not possible to develop ecstatic love of God unless you love Him very deeply 
and regard Him as your very own. 

"Listen to a story. Once three friends were going through a forest, when a tiger suddenly 
appeared before them. 'Brothers,' one of them exclaimed, 'we are lost!' 'Why should you say 
that?' said the second friend. 'Why should we be lost? Come, let us pray to God.' The third friend 
said: 'No. Why should we trouble God about it? Come, let us climb this tree.' 

"The friend who said, 'We are lost!' did not know that there is a God who is our Protector. 
The friend who asked the others to pray to God was a jnani. He was aware that God is the Creator, 
Preserver, and Destroyer of the world. The third friend, who didn't want to trouble God with 
prayers and suggested climbing the tree, had ecstatic love of God. It is the very nature of such love 

that it makes a man think himself stronger than his Beloved. He is always alert lest his Beloved 
should suffer. The one desire of his life is to keep his Beloved from even being pricked in the foot 
by a thorn." 

Ram served the Master and the devotees with delicious sweets. 


Monday, June 4, 1883 

ABOUT NINE O'CLOCK in the morning the devotees began to arrive at the temple garden. 
Sri Ramakrishna was sitting on the porch of his room facing the Ganges. M., who had spent the 
previous night with the Master, sat near him. Balaram and several other devotees were present. 
Rakhal lay on the floor, resting his head on the Master's lap. For the past few days the Master had 
been regarding Rakhal as the Baby Krishna. 

Seeing Trailokya passing on his way to the Kali temple, Sri Ramakrishna asked Rakhal to get 
up. Trailokya bowed to the Master. 

MASTER (to Trailokya): "Was there no yatra performance last night?" 

TRAILOKYA: "No, sir. We couldn't conveniently arrange it." 

MASTER: "What is done is done. But please see that this doesn't happen again. The 
traditions of the temple should be properly observed." 

Trailokya gave a suitable reply and went on his way. After a while Ram Chatterji, the priest 
of the Vishnu temple, came up to Sri Ramakrishna. 

MASTER: "Well, Ram, I told Trailokya that the yatra performance should not be omitted 
again. Was I right in saying that?". 

RAM: "What of it, sir? Of course you were right. The traditions should be observed." 

The Master asked Balaram to stay for his midday meal. Before the meal Sri Ramakrishna 
described to the devotees the days of his God-intoxication. Rakhal, M., Ramlal, and a few others 
were present. 


MASTER: "Now and then Hazra comes forward to teach me. He says to me, 'Why do you 
think so much about the youngsters?' One day, as I was going to Balaram's house in a carriage, I 
felt greatly troubled about it. I said to the Divine Mother: 'Mother, Hazra admonishes me for 
worrying about Narendra and the other young boys. He asks me why I forget God and think about 
these youngsters.' No sooner did this thought arise in my mind than the Divine Mother revealed to 
me in a flash that it is She Herself who has become man. But She manifests Herself most clearly 
through a. pure soul. At this vision I went into samadhi. Afterwards I felt angry with Hazra. I said to 
myself, 'That rascal made me miserable.' Then I thought: 'But why should I blame the poor man? 
How is he to know?' 


"I know these youngsters to be Narayana Himself. At my first meeting with Narendra I 
found him completely indifferent to his body. When I touched his chest with my hand, he lost 
consciousness of the outer world. Regaining consciousness, Narendra said: 'Oh, what have you 
done to me? I have my father and mother at home!' The same thing happened at Jadu Mallick's 
house. As the days passed I longed more and more to see him. My heart yearned for him. One day 
at that time I said to Bholanath: 'Can you tell me why I should feel this way? There is a boy called 
Narendra, of the kayastha caste. Why should I feel so restless for him?' Bholanath said: 'You will 
find the explanation in the Mahabharata. On coming down to the plane of ordinary consciousness, 
a man established in samadhi enjoys himself in the company of sattvic people. He feels peace of 
mind at the sight of such men.' When I heard this my mind was set at ease. Now and then I would 
sit alone and weep for the sight of Narendra. 


"Oh, what a state of mind I passed through! When I first had that experience, I could not 
perceive the coming and going of day or night. People said I was insane. What else could they say? 
They made me marry. I was then in a state of God-intoxication. At first I felt worried about my 
wife. Then I thought she too would eat and drink and live like me. 

"I visited my father-in-law's house. They arranged a kirtan. It was a great religious festival, 
and there was much singing of God's holy name. Now and then I would wonder about my future. I 
would say to the Divine Mother, 'Mother, I shall take my spiritual experiences to be real if the 
landlords of the country show me respect.' They too came of their own accord and talked with me. 

"Oh, what an ecstatic state it was! Even the slightest suggestion would awaken my spiritual 
consciousness. I worshipped the 'Beautiful' in a girl fourteen years old. I saw that she was the 
personification of the Divine Mother. At the end of the worship I bowed before her and offered a 
rupee at her feet. One day I witnessed a Ramlila performance. I saw the performers to be the 
actual Sita, Rama, Lakshmana, Hanuman, and Bibhishana. Then I worshipped the actors and 
actresses who played those parts. 

"At that time I used to invite maidens here and worship them. I found them to be 
embodiments of the Divine Mother Herself. 

"One day I saw a woman in blue standing near the bakul-tree. She was a prostitute. But she 
instantly kindled in me the vision of Sita. I forgot the woman. I saw that it was Sita herself on her 
way to meet Rama after her rescue from Ravana in Ceylon. For a long time I remained in samadhi, 
unconscious of the outer world. 

"Another day I had gone to the Maidan in Calcutta for fresh air. A great crowd had 
assembled there to watch a balloon ascension. Suddenly I saw an English boy leaning against a 
tree. As he stood there his body was bent in three places. The vision of Krishna came before me 
in a flash. I went into samadhi. 

"Once, at Sihore, I fed the cowherd boys. I put sweetmeats into their hands. I saw that 
these boys were actually the cowherd boys of Vrindavan, and I partook of the sweetmeats from 
their hands. 

"At that time I was almost unconscious of the outer world. Mathur Babu kept me at his 
Janbazar mansion a few days. While living there I regarded myself as the handmaid of the Divine 
Mother. The ladies of the house didn't feel at all bashful with me. They felt as free before me as 
women feel before a small boy or girl. I used to escort Mathur's daughter to her husband's 
chamber with the maidservant. 

"Even now the slightest thing awakens God-Consciousness in me. Rakhal used to repeat the 
name of God half aloud. At such times I couldn't control myself. It would rouse my spiritual 
consciousness and overwhelm me." 

Sri Ramakrishna went on describing the different experiences he had had while worshipping 
the Divine Mother as Her handmaid. He said: "Once I imitated a professional woman, singer for a 
man singer. He said my acting was quite correct and asked me where I had learnt it." The Master 
repeated his imitation for the devotees, and they burst into laughter. 

After his noon meal the Master took a short rest. Manilal Mallick, an old member of the 
Brahmo Samaj, entered the room and sat down after saluting the Master, who was still lying on his 
bed. Manilal asked him questions now and then, and the Master, still half asleep, answered with a 
word or two. Manilal said that Shivanath admired Nityagopal's spiritual state. The Master asked in 
a sleepy tone what they thought of Hazra. 

Then Sri Ramakrishna sat up on his bed and told Manilal about Bhavanath's devotion to 


MASTER: "Ah, what an exalted state he is in! He has hardly begun to sing about God before 
his eyes fill with tears. The very sight of Harish made him ecstatic. He said that Harish was very 
lucky. He made the remark because Harish was spending a few days here, now and then, away 
from his home." 

Sri Ramakrishna asked M., "Well, what is the cause of bhakti? Why should the spiritual 
feeling of young boys like Bhavanath be awakened?" M. remained silent. 

MASTER: "The fact is, all men may look alike from the outside, but some of them have 
fillings of 'condensed milk'. Cakes may have fillings of condensed milk or powdered black grams, 
but they all look alike from the outside. The desire to know God, ecstatic love of Him, and such 
other spiritual qualities are the 'condensed milk'." 


Sri Ramakrishna spoke reassuringly to the devotees. 

MASTER (to M.): "Some think: 'Oh, I am a bound soul. I shall never acquire knowledge and 
devotion.' But if one receives the guru's grace, one has nothing to fear. Once a tigress attacked a 
flock of goats. As she sprang on her prey, she gave birth to a cub and died. The cub grew up in the 

company of the goats. The goats ate grass and the cub followed their example. They bleated; the 
cub bleated too. Gradually it grew to be a big tiger. One day another tiger attacked the same flock. 
It was amazed to see the grass-eating tiger. Running after it, the wild tiger at last seized it, 
whereupon the grass-eating tiger began to bleat. The wild tiger dragged it to the water and said: 
'Look at your face in the water. It is just like mine. Here is a little meat. Eat it.' Saying this, it thrust 
some meat into its mouth. But the grass-eating tiger would not swallow it and began to bleat 
again. Gradually, however, it got the taste for blood and came to relish the meat. Then the wild 
tiger said: 'Now you see there is no difference between you and me. Come along and follow me 
into the forest.' 

"So there can be no fear if the guru's grace descends on one. He will let you know who you 
are and what your real nature is. 

"If the devotee practises spiritual discipline a little, the guru explains everything to him. 
Then the disciple understands for himself what is real and what is unreal. God alone is real, and 
the world is illusory. 


"One night a fisherman went into a garden and cast his net into the lake in order to steal 
some fish. The owner heard him and surrounded him with his servants. They brought lighted 
torches and began to search for him. In the mean time the fisherman smeared his body with ashes 
and sat under a tree, pretending to be a holy man. The owner and his men searched a great deal 
but could not find the thief. All they saw was a holy man covered with ashes, meditating under a 
tree. The next day the news spread in the neighbourhood that a great sage was staying in the 
garden. People gathered there and saluted him with offerings of fruit, flowers, and sweets. Many 
also offered silver and copper coins. 'How strange!' thought the fisherman. 'I am not a genuine 
holy man, and still people show such devotion to me. I shall certainly realize God if I become a true 
sadhu. There is no doubt about it.' 

"If a mere pretence of religious life can bring such spiritual awakening, you can imagine the 
effect of real sadhana. In that state you will surely realize what is real and what is unreal. God 
alone is real, and the world is illusory." 


One of the devotees said to himself: "Is the world unreal, then? The fisherman, to be sure, 
renounced worldly life. What, then, will happen to those who live in the world? Must they too 
renounce it?" Sri Ramakrishna, who could see into a man's innermost thought, said very tenderly: 
"Suppose an office clerk has been sent to jail. He undoubtedly leads a prisoner's life there. But 
when he is released from jail, does he cut capers in the street? Not at all. He gets a job as a clerk 
again and goes on working as before. Even after attaining Knowledge through the guru's grace, 
one can very well live in the world as a Jivanmukta." Thus did Sri Ramakrishna reassure those who 
were living as householders. 


MANUAL: "Sir, where shall I meditate on God when I perform my daily worship?" 

MASTER: "Why, the heart is a splendid place. Meditate on God there." 

Manilal, a member of the Brahmo Samaj, believed in a formless God. Addressing him, the 
Master said: "Kabir used to say: 'God with form is my Mother, the formless God my Father. Whom 
should I blame? Whom should I adore? The two sides of the scales are even.' During the day-time 
Haladhari used to meditate on God with form, and at night on the formless God. Whichever 
attitude you adopt, you will certainly realize God if you have firm faith. You may believe in God 
with form or in God without form, but your faith must be sincere and whole-hearted. Sambhu 
Mallick used to come on foot from Baghbazar to his garden house at Dakshineswar. One day a 
friend said to him: 'It is risky to walk such a long distance. Why don't you come in a carriage?' At 
that Sambhu's face turned red and he exclaimed: 'I set out repeating the name of God! What 
danger can befall me?' Through faith alone one attains everything. I used to say, 'I shall take all this 
to be true if I meet a certain person or if a certain officer of the temple garden talks to me.' What I 
would think of would invariably come to pass." 

M. had studied English logic. In the chapters on fallacies he had read that only superstitious 
people believed in the coincidence of morning dreams with actual events. Therefore he asked the 
Master, "Was there never any exception?" 

MASTER: "No. At that time everything happened that way. I would repeat the name of God 
and believe that a certain thing would happen, and it would invariably come to pass. (To Manilal) 
But you must remember, unless one is guileless and broad-minded, one cannot have such faith. 
Bony people, the hollow-eyed, the cross-eyed-people with physical traits like those cannot easily 
acquire faith. What can a man do if there are evil omens on all sides?" 

It was dusk. The maidservant entered the room and burnt incense. Manilal and some other 
devotees left for Calcutta. M. and Rakhal were in the room. The Master was seated on his small 
couch absorbed in meditation on the Divine Mother. There was complete silence. 

After a time Bhagavati, an old maidservant of the temple proprietor, entered the room and 
saluted the Master from a distance. Sri Ramakrishna bade her sit down. The Master had known her 
for many years. In her younger days she had lived a rather immoral life; but the Master's 
compassion was great. Soon he began to converse with her. 

MASTER: "Now you are pretty old. Have you been feeding the Vaishnavas and holy men, 
and thus spending your money in a noble way?" 

BHAGAVATI (smiling): "How can I say that?" 

MASTER: "Have you been to Vrindavan, Benares, and the other holy places?" 

BHAGAVATI (shrinkingly): "How can I say that- 1 have built a bathing place, and my name is 
inscribed there on a slab." 

MASTER: "Indeed!" 

BHAGAVATI: "Yes, sir. My name, 'Srimati Bhagavati Dasi', is written there." 

MASTER (with a smile): "How nice!" 

Emboldened by the Master's words, Bhagavati approached and saluted him, touching his 
feet. Like a man stung by a scorpion, Sri Ramakrishna stood up and cried out, "Govinda! Govinda!" 
A big jar of Ganges water stood in a comer of the room. He hurried there, panting, and washed 
with the holy water the spot the maidservant had touched. The devotees in the room were 
amazed to see this incident. Bhagavati sat as if struck dead. 

Sri Ramakrishna consoled her and said in a very kindly tone, "You should salute me from a 
distance." In order to relieve her mind of all embarrassment, the Master said tenderly, "Listen to a 
few songs." 

The Master then sang about the Divine Mother: 

The black bee of my mind is drawn in sheer delight to the blue lotus flower of Mother 
Syama'sfeet. . . . 

Then he sang: 

High in the heaven of the Mother's feet, my mind was soaring like a kite, When came a gust 
of sin's rough wind that drove it swiftly toward the earth. . . . 


Dwell, mind, within yourself; enter no other's home. If you but seek there, you will find All 
you are searching for. 

God, the true Philosopher's Stone, Who answers every prayer, 

Lies hidden deep within your heart, the richest gem of all. 

How many pearls and precious stones are scattered all about the outer court that lies 
before The chamber of your heart! 

Tuesday, June 5, 1883 

Rakhal and Hazra were staying with the Master in the temple garden at Dakshineswar. M., 
too, had been there since the previous Sunday. As it was a week-day there were only a few 
devotees in the room. Generally people gathered there in large numbers on Sundays or holidays. 

It was afternoon. Sri Ramakrishna was telling the devotees about his experiences during his 
God-intoxicated state. 

MASTER (to M.): "Oh, what a state I passed through! At that time I didn't eat my meals 
here. I would enter the house of a brahmin in the village or at Baranagore or at Ariadaha. 
Generally it would be past meal-time. I would just sit down there without saying a word. If the 
members of the household asked me why I had come, I would simply say, 'I want something to 
eat.' Now and then I would go, uninvited of course, to Ram Chatterji's house at Alambazar or to 
the Choudhurys at Dakshineswar. But I didn't relish the food at the Choudhurys' house. 

"One day I begged Mathur to take me to Devendra Tagore's house. I said: 'Devendra chants 
the name of God, I want to see him. Will you take me there?' Mathur Babu was a very proud man. 
How could one expect him to go to another man's house uninvited? At first he hesitated. But then 
he said: 'All right. Devendra and I were fellow students. I will take you to him.' 

"Another day I learnt of a good man named Dina Mukherji, living at Baghbazar near the 
bridge. He was a devotee. I asked Mathur to take me there. Finding me insistent, he took me to 
Dina's house in a carriage. It was a small place. The arrival of a rich man in a big carriage 
embarrassed the inmates. We too were embarrassed. That day Dina's son was being invested with 
the sacred thread. The house was crowded, and there was hardly any place for Dina to receive us. 
We were about to enter a side room, when someone cried out: 'Please don't go into that room. 
There are ladies there.' It was really a distressing situation. Returning, Mathur Babu said, 'Father, I 
shall never listen to you again.' I laughed. 

"Oh, what a state I passed through! Once Kumar Singh gave a feast to the sadhus and 
invited me too. I found a great many holy men assembled there. When I sat down for the meal, 
several sadhus asked me about myself. At once I felt like leaving them and sitting alone. I 
wondered why they should bother about all that. The sadhus took their seats. I began to eat 
before they had started. I heard several of them remark, 'Oh! What sort of man is this?' " 


It was about five o'clock in the afternoon. Sri Ramakrishna was sitting on the steps of his 
verandah. Hazra, Rakhal, and M. were near him. Hazra had the attitude of a Vedantist: "I am He." 

MASTER (to Hazra): "Yes, all one's confusion comes to an end if one only realizes that it is 
God who manifests Himself as the atheist and the believer, the good and the bad, the real and the 
unreal; that it is He who is present in waking and in sleep; and that He is beyond all these. 

"There was a farmer to whom an only son was born when he was rather advanced in age. 
As the child grew up, his parents became very fond of him. One day the farmer was out working in 
the fields, when a neighbour told him that his son was dangerously ill-indeed, at the point of 
death. Returning home he found the boy dead. His wife wept bitterly, but his own eyes remained 
dry. Sadly the wife said to her neighbours, 'Such a son has passed away, and he hasn't even one 
tear to shed!' After a long while the farmer said to his wife: 'Do you know why I am not crying? 
Last night I dreamt I had become a king, and the father of seven princes. These princes were 
beautiful as well as virtuous. They grew in stature and acquired wisdom and knowledge in the 
various arts. Suddenly I woke up. Now I have been wondering whether I should weep for those 
seven children or this one boy.' To the jnanis the waking state is no more real than the dream 

"God alone is the Doer. Everything happens by His will." 

HAZRA: "But it is very difficult to understand that. Take the case of the sadhu of Bhukailas. 
How people tortured him and; in a way, killed him! They had found him in samadhi. First they 

buried him, then they put him under water, and then they branded him with a hot iron. Thus they 
brought him back to consciousness of the world. But in the end the sadhu died as a result of these 
tortures. He undoubtedly suffered at the hands of men, though, as you say, he died by the will of 

MASTER: "Man must reap the fruit of his own karma. But as far as the death of that holy 
man is concerned, it was brought about by the will of God. The kavirajs prepare makaradhvaja in a 
bottle. The bottle is covered with clay and heated in the fire. The gold inside the bottle melts and 
combines with the other ingredients, and the medicine is made. Then the physicians break the 
bottle carefully and take out the medicine. When the medicine is made, what difference does it 
make whether the bottle is preserved or broken? So people think that the holy man was killed. But 
perhaps his inner stuff had been made. After the realization of God, what difference does it make 
whether the body lives or dies? 


"The sadhu of Bhukailas was in samadhi. There are many kinds of samadhi. My own spiritual 
experiences tally with the words I heard from a sadhu of Hrishikesh. 

Sometimes I feel the rising of the spiritual current inside me, as though it were the creeping 
of an ant. Sometimes it feels like the movement of a monkey jumping from one branch to another. 
Again, sometimes it feels like a fish swimming in water. Only he who experiences it knows what it 
is like. In samadhi one forgets the world. When the mind comes down a little, I say to the Divine 
Mother: 'Mother, please cure me of this. I want to talk to people.' 

"None but the Isvarakotis can return to the plane of relative consciousness after attaining 
samadhi. Some ordinary men attain samadhi through spiritual discipline; but they do not come 
back. But when God Himself is born as a man, as an Incarnation, holding in His hand the key to 
others' liberation, then for the welfare of humanity the Incarnation returns from samadhi to 
consciousness of the world." 

M. (to himself): "Does the Master hold in his hand the key to man's liberation?" 

HAZRA: "The one thing needful is to please God. What does it matter whether an 
Incarnation of God exists or not?" 

It was the day of the new moon. Gradually night descended and dense darkness enveloped 
the trees and the temples. A few lights shone here and there in the temple garden. The black sky 
was reflected in the waters of the Ganges. 

The Master went to the verandah south of his room. A spiritual mood was the natural state 
of his mind. The dark night of the new moon, associated with the black complexion of Kali, the 
Divine Mother, intensified his spiritual exaltation. Now and then he repeated "Om" and the name 
of Kali. 

He lay down on a mat and whispered to M. 

MASTER: "Yes, God can be seen. X- has had a vision of God. But don't tell anyone about it. 
Tell me, which do you like better, God with form, or the formless Realitv?" 

M: "Sir, nowadays I like to think of God without form. But I am also beginning to understand 
that it is God alone who manifests Himself through different forms." 

MASTER: "Will you take me in a carriage some day to Mati Seal's garden house at Belgharia? 
When you throw puffed rice into the lake there, the fish come to the surface and eat it. Ah! I feel 
so happy to see them sport in the water. That will awaken your spiritual consciousness too. You 
will feel as if the fish of the human soul were playing in the Ocean of Satchidananda. In the same 
manner, I go into an ecstatic mood when I stand in a big meadow. I feel like a fish released from a 
bowl into a lake. 

"Spiritual discipline is necessary in order to see God. I had to pass through very severe 
discipline. How many austerities I practised under the bel-tree! I would lie down under it, crying to 
the Divine Mother, '0 Mother, reveal Thyself to me.' The tears would flow in torrents and soak my 

M: "You practised so many austerities, but people expect to realize God in a moment! Can a 
man build a wall simply by moving his finger around his home?" 

MASTER (with a smile): "Amrita says that one man lights a fire and ten bask in its heat. I 
want to tell you something else. It is good to remain on the plane of the Lila after reaching the 

M: "You once said that one comes down to the plane of the Lila in order to enjoy the divine 


MASTER: "No, not exactly that. The Lila is real too. 

"Let me tell you something. Whenever you come here, bring a trifle with you. Perhaps I 
shouldn't say it; it may look like egotism. I also told Adhar Sen that he should bring a pennyworth 
of something with him. I asked Bhavanath to bring a pennyworth of betel-leaf. Have you noticed 
Bhavanath's devotion? Narendra and he seem like man and woman. He is devoted to Narendra. 
Bring Narendra here with you in a carriage, and also bring some sweets with you. It will do you 


"Knowledge and love-both are paths leading to God. Those who follow the path of love 
have to observe a little more outer purity. But the violation of this by a man following the path of 
knowledge cannot injure him. It is destroyed in the fire of knowledge. Even a banana tree is burnt 
up when it is thrown into a roaring fire. 

"The jnanis follow the path of discrimination. Sometimes it happens that, discriminating 
between the Real and the unreal, a man loses his faith in the existence of God. But a devotee who 
sincerely yearns for God does not give up his meditation even though he is invaded by atheistic 

ideas. A man whose father and grandfather have been farmers continues his farming even though 
he doesn't get any crop in a year of drought." 

Lying on the mat and resting his head on a pillow, Sri Ramakrishna continued the 
conversation. He said to M: "My legs are aching. Please stroke them gently." Thus, out of his 
infinite compassion, the Master allowed his disciple to render him personal service. 

June 8, 1883 

It was a summer day. The evening service in the Kali temple was over. Sri Ramakrishna 
stood before the image of the Divine Mother and waved the fan a few minutes. 

Ram, Kedar Chatterji, and Tarak arrived from Calcutta with flowers and sweets. Kedar was 
about fifty years old. At first he had frequented the Brahmo Samaj and joined other religious sects 
in his search for God, but later on he had accepted the Master as his spiritual guide. He was an 
accountant in a government office and lived in a suburb of Calcutta. 

Tarak was a young man of twenty-four. His wife had died shortly after their marriage. He 
hailed from the village of Barasat not far from Calcutta. His father, a highly spiritual soul, had 
visited Sri Ramakrishna many times. Tarak often went to Ram's house and used to go to 
Dakshineswar in the company of Ram and Nityagopal. He worked in a business firm, but his 
attitude toward the world was one of utter indifference. 

As Sri Ramakrishna came out of the temple, he saw Ram, Kedar, M., Tarak, and other 
devotees standing outside. He showed his affection for Tarak by touching his chin. He was very 
happy to see him. 

Returning to his room, the Master sat on the floor in an ecstatic mood, with his legs 
stretched before him. Ram and Kedar decorated his feet with flowers and garlands. The Master 
was in samadhi. 


Kedar believed in certain queer practices of a religious sect to which he had once belonged. 
He held the Master's big toe in his hand, believing that in this way the Master's spiritual power 
would be transmitted to him. As Sri Ramakrishna regained partial consciousness, he said, "Mother, 
what can he do to me by holding my toe?" Kedar sat humbly with folded hands. Still in an ecstatic 
mood, the Master said to Kedar: "Your mind is still attracted by 'woman and gold'. What is the use 
of saying you don't care for it? Go forward. Beyond the forest of sandal-wood there are many 
more things: mines of silver, gold, diamonds, and other precious stones. Having a glimpse of 
spirituality, don't think you have attained everything." The Master was again in an ecstatic mood. 
He said to the Divine Mother, "Mother, take him away." At these words Kedar's throat dried up. In 
a frightened tone he said to Ram, "What is the Master saying?" 

At the sight of Rakhal, Sri Ramakrishna was again overpowered with a spiritual mood. He 
said to his beloved disciple: "I have been here many days; when did you come?" 

Was the Master hinting that he was an Incarnation of God, and Rakhal his divine 
companion, a member of the inner circle of devotees? 

Sunday, June 10, 1883 

The Master was sitting in his room with Rakhal, M., Latu, Kishori, Ramlal, Hazra, and other 
devotees. It was about ten o'clock in the morning. 


Describing his early life, Sri Ramakrishna said to them: "During my younger days the men 
and women of Kamarpukur were equally fond of me. They loved to hear me sing. I could imitate 
other people's gestures and conversation and I used to entertain them that way. The women 
would put aside things for me to eat. No one distrusted me. Everybody took me in as one of the 

"But I was like a happy pigeon. I used to frequent only happy families. I would run away 
from a place where I saw misery and suffering. 

"One or two young boys of the village were my close friends. I was very intimate with some 
of them; but now they are totally immersed in worldliness. A few of them visit me here now and 
then and say, 'Goodness! He seems to be just the same as he was in the village school!' While I was 
at school, arithmetic would throw me into confusion, but I could paint very well and could also 
model small images of the deities. 

"I loved to visit the free eating-places maintained for holy men and the poor, and would 
watch them for hours. 

"I loved to hear the reading of sacred books such as the Ramayana and Bhagavata. If the 
readers had any affectations, I could easily imitate them and would entertain others with my 

"I understood the behaviour of women very well and imitated their words and intonations. 
I could easily recognize immoral women. Immoral widows part their hair in the middle and 
perform their toilet with great care. They have very little modesty. The way they sit is so different! 
But let's not talk of worldly things any more." 

The Master asked Ramlal to sing. Ramlal sang: 

Who is this terrible Woman, dark as the sky at midnight? Who is this Woman dancing over 
the field of battle like a blue lotus that floats on a crimson sea of blood? Who is She, clad alone in 
the Infinite for a garment, Rolling Her three great eyes in frenzy and savage fury? Under the weight 
of Her tread the earth itself is trembling! Siva, Her mighty Husband, who wields the fearful trident, 
Lies like a lifeless corpse beneath Her conquering feet. 

The next song described the grief of Mandodari at the death of her husband Ravana. As he 
listened to it the Master shed tears of sorrow and said: "Once, when I entered the pine-grove over 

there, I heard the boatmen on the Ganges singing that song and wept bitterly for a long time. I had 
to be brought back to my room." 

Ramlal sang about the love of the gopis for Sri Krishna. Akrura was about to drive Sri Krishna 
in a chariot from Vrindavan to Mathura. The gopis would not let Him go. Some held the wheels of 
the chariot; some lay down in front of it. They blamed Akrura, not knowing that Sri Krishna was 
leaving them of His own will. Akrura was explaining this to the gopis. 

Ramlal sang: 

Hold not, hold not the chariot's wheels! Is it the wheels that make it move? The Mover of its 
wheels is Krishna, By whose will the worlds are moved. . . . 

About the gopis, the Master said: "What deep love, what ecstatic devotion they had for 
Krishna! Radha painted the picture of Sri Krishna with her own hand, but did not paint His legs lest 
He should run away to Mathura! I used to sing these songs very often during my boyhood. I could 
reproduce the whole drama from memory." 

After his meal Sri Ramakrishna sat on the couch. He had not yet found time to rest. The 
devotees began to assemble. One party arrived from Manirampur and another from Belgharia. 
Some of the devotees said, "We have disturbed your rest." 

MASTER: "Oh, no! What you say applies only to a rajasic man. About him people say, 'Ah, 
now he will enjoy his sleep.'" 

The devotees from Manirampur asked the Master how to realize God. 

MASTER: "You must practise spiritual discipline a little. It will not do simply to say that milk 
contains butter. You must let the milk set into curd and then churn it. Only then can you get butter 
from it. Spiritual aspirants must go into solitude now and then. After acquiring love of God in 
solitude, they may live in the world. If one is wearing a pair of shoes, one can easily walk over 

"The most important thing is faith. As is a man's meditation, so is his feeling of love; As is a 
man's feeling of love, so is his gain; And faith is the root of all. If one has faith one has nothing to 

A DEVOTEE: "Sir, is it necessary to have a guru?" 

MASTER: "Yes, many need a guru. But a man must have faith in the guru's words. He 
succeeds in spiritual life by looking on his guru as God Himself. Therefore the Vaishnavas speak of 
Guru, Krishna, and Vaishnava. 

"One should constantly repeat the name of God. The name of God is highly effective in the 
Kaliyuga. The practice of yoga is not possible in this age, for the life of a man depends on food. 
Clap your hands while repeating God's name, and the birds of your sin will fly away. 

"One should always seek the company of holy men. The nearer you approach the Ganges, 
the cooler the breeze will feel. Again, the nearer you go to a fire, the hotter the air will feel. 

"But one cannot achieve anything through laziness and procrastination. People who desire 
worldly enjoyment say about spiritual progress: 'Well, it will all happen in time. We shall realize 
God some time or other.' 

"I said to Keshab Sen: 'When a father sees that his son has become restless for his 
inheritance, he gives him his share of the property even three years before the legal time. A 
mother keeps on cooking while the baby is in bed sucking its toy. But when it throws the toy away 
and cries for her, she puts down the rice-pot and takes the baby in her arms and nurses it.' I said all 
this to Keshab. 

"It is said that, in the Kaliyuga, if a man can weep for God one day and one night, he sees 


"Feel piqued at God and say to Him: 'You have created me. Now You must reveal Yourself to 
me.' Whether you live in the world or elsewhere, always fix your mind on God. The mind soaked 
in worldliness may be compared to a wet match-stick. You won't get a spark, however much you 
may rub it. Ekalavya placed the clay image of Drona, his teacher, in front of him and thus learnt 

Go forward. The wood-cutter, following the instructions of the holy man, went forward and 
found in the forest sandal-wood and mines of silver and gold; and going still farther, he found 
diamonds and other precious stones. 

"The ignorant are like people living in a house with clay walls. There is very little light inside, 
and they cannot see outside at all. But those who enter the world after attaining the Knowledge of 
God are like people living in a house made of glass. For them both inside and outside are light. 
They can see things outside as well as inside. 

"Nothing exists except the One. That One is the Supreme Brahman. So long as He keeps the 
T in us, He reveals to us that it is He who, as the Primal Energy, creates, preserves, and destroys 
the universe. 

"That which is Brahman is also the Primal Energy. Once a king asked a yogi to impart 
Knowledge to him in one word. The yogi said, 'All right; you will get Knowledge in one word.' After 
a while a magician came to the king. The king saw the magician moving two of his fingers rapidly 
and heard him exclaim, 'Behold, King! Behold.' The king looked at him amazed when, after a few 
minutes, he saw the two fingers becoming one. The magician moved that one finger rapidly and 
said, 'Behold, King! Behold.' The implication of the story is that Brahman and the Primal Energy 
at first appear to be two. But after attaining the Knowledge of Brahman one does not see the two. 
Then there is no differentiation; it is One, without a second -Advaita-non-duality." 

The Master was very happy to see a musician who had come with the devotees from 
Belgharia. Some time before, Sri Ramakrishna had gone into an ecstatic mood on hearing his 
devotional music. At the Master's request the musician sang a few songs, one of which described 
the awakening of the Kundalini and the six centres: 

Awake, Mother! Awake! How long Thou hast been asleep In the lotus of the Muladhara! 
Fulfil Thy secret function, Mother: Rise to the thousand-petalled lotus within the head, 

Where mighty Siva has His dwelling; Swiftly pierce the six lotuses And take away my grief, 
Essence of Consciousness! 

MASTER: "The song speaks of the Kundalini's passing through the six centres. God is both 
within and without. From within He creates the various states of mind. After passing through the 
six centres, the jiva goes beyond the realm of maya and becomes united with the Supreme Soul. 
This is the vision of God. 

"One cannot see God unless maya steps aside from the door. Rama, Lakshmana, and Sita 
were walking together. Rama was in front, Sita walked in the middle, and Lakshmana followed 
them. But Lakshmana could not see Rama because Sita was between them. In like manner, man 
cannot see God because maya is between them. (To Mani Mallick) But maya steps aside from the 
door when God shows His grace to the devotee. When the visitor stands before the door, the 
door-keeper says to the master, 'Sir, command us, and we shall let him pass.' 

"There are two schools of thought: the Vedanta and the Purana. According to the Vedanta 
this world is a 'framework of illusion', that is to say, it is all illusory, like a dream. But according to 
the Purana, the books of devotion, God Himself has become the twenty-four cosmic principles. 
Worship God both within and without. 

"As long as God keeps the awareness of T in us, so long do sense-objects exist; and we 
cannot very well speak of the world as a dream. There is fire in the hearth; therefore the rice and 
pulse and potatoes and the other vegetables jump about in the pot. They jump about as if to say: 
'We are here! We are jumping!' This body is the pot. The mind and intelligence are the water. The 
objects of the senses are the rice, potatoes, and other vegetables. The 'l-consciousness' identified 
with the senses says, 'I am jumping about.' And Satchidananda is the fire. 

"Hence the Bhakti scriptures describe this very world as a 'mansion of mirth'. Ramprasad 
sang in one of his songs, 'This world is a framework of illusion.' Another devotee gave the reply, 
'This very world is a mansion of mirth.' As the saying goes, 'The devotee of Kali, free while living, is 
full of Eternal Bliss.' The bhakta sees that He who is God has also become maya. Again, He Himself 
has become the universe and all its living beings. The bhakta sees God, maya, the universe, and the 
living beings as one. Some devotees see everything as Rama: it is Rama alone who has become 
everything. Some see everything as Radha and Krishna. To them it is Krishna alone who has 
become the twenty-four cosmic principles. It is like seeing everything green through green glasses. 

"But the Bhakti scriptures admit that the manifestations of Power are different in different 
beings. It is Rama who has become everything, no doubt; but He manifests Himself more in some 
than in others. There is one kind of manifestation of Rama in the Incarnation of God, and another 
in men. Even the Incarnations are conscious of the body. Embodiment is due to maya. Rama wept 
for Sita. But the Incarnation of God puts a bondage over His eyes by His own will, like children 
playing blindman's buff. The children stop playing when their mother calls them. It is quite 
different, however, with the ordinary man. The cloth his eyes are bandaged with is fastened to his 

back with screws, as it were. There are eight fetters. Shame, hatred, fear, caste, lineage, good 
conduct, grief, and secretiveness-these are the eight fetters. And they cannot be unfastened 
without the help of a guru. 


A DEVOTEE : "Sir, please bless us." MASTER: "God is in all beings. But you must apply to the 
Gas Company. It will connect the storage-tank with the pipe in your house. 

"One must pray earnestly. It is said that one can realize God by directing to Him the 
combined intensity of three attractions, namely, the child's attraction for the mother, the 
husband's attraction for the chaste wife, and the attraction of worldly possessions for the worldly 


"There are certain signs by which you can know a true devotee of God. His mind becomes 
quiet as he listens to his teacher's instruction, just as the poisonous snake is quieted by the music 
of the charmer. I don't mean the cobra. There is another sign. A real devotee develops the power 
of assimilating instruction. An image cannot be impressed on bare glass, but only on glass stained 
with a black solution, as in photography. The black solution is devotion to God. There is a third sign 
of a true devotee. The true devotee has controlled his senses. He has subdued his lust. The gopis 
were free from lust. 

"You are talking about your leading a householder's life. Suppose you are a householder. It 
rather helps in the practice of spiritual discipline. It is like fighting from inside a fort. The Tantriks 
sometimes use a corpse in their religious rites. Now and then the dead body frightens them by 
opening its mouth. That is why they keep fried rice and grams near them, and from time to time 
they throw some of the grains into the corpse's mouth. Thus pacifying the corpse, they repeat the 
name of the Deity without any worry. Likewise, the householder should pacify his wife and the 
other members of his family. He should provide them with food and other necessities. Thus he 
removes the obstacles to his practice of spiritual discipline. 

"Those who still have a few worldly experiences to enjoy should lead a householder's life 
and pray to God. That is why Nityananda allowed the worldly to enjoy catfish soup and the warm 
embrace of a young woman while repeating God's name. 

"But it is quite different with genuine sannyasis. A bee lights on flowers and on nothing else. 
To the chatak all water except rain is tasteless. It will drink no other water, but looks up agape for 
the rain that falls when the star Svati is in the ascendant. It drinks only that water. A real sannyasi 
will not enjoy any kind of bliss except the Bliss of God. The bee lights only on flowers. The real 
monk is like a bee, whereas the householder devotee is like a common fly, which lights on a 
festering sore as well as on a sweetmeat. 

"You have taken so much trouble to come here. You must be seeking God. But almost 
everyone is satisfied simply by seeing the garden. Only one or two look for its owner. People enjoy 
the beauty of the world; they do not seek its Owner. 

(Pointing to the singer) "A little while ago he sang a song describing the six centres. These 
are dealt with in Yoga. There are two kinds of yoga: hathayoga and rajayoga. The hathayogi 
practises physical exercises. His goal is to acquire supernatural powers: longevity and the eight 
psychic powers. These are his aims. But the aim of rajayoga is the attainment of devotion, ecstatic 
love, knowledge, and renunciation. Of these two, rajayoga is the better. 


"There is much similarity between the seven 'planes' described in the Vedanta and the six 
'centres' of Yoga. The first three planes of the Vedas may be compared to the first three Yogic 
centres, namely, Muladhara, Svadhisthana, and Manipura. With ordinary people the mind dwells 
in these three planes, at the organs of evacuation and generation and at the navel. When the mind 
ascends to the fourth plane, the centre designated in Yoga as Anahata, it sees the individual soul 
as a flame. Besides, it sees light. At this the aspirant cries: 'Ah! What is this? Ah! What is this?' 

"When the mind rises to the fifth plane, the aspirant wants to hear only about God. This is 
the Visuddha centre of Yoga. The sixth plane and the centre known by the yogi as Ajna are one and 
the same. When the mind rises there, the aspirant sees God. But still there is a barrier between 
God and the devotee. It is like the barrier of glass in a lantern, which keeps one from touching the 
light. King Janaka used to give instruction about Brahmajnana from the fifth plane. Sometimes he 
dwelt on the fifth plane, and sometimes on the sixth. 

"After passing the six centres the aspirant arrives at the seventh plane. Reaching it, the 
mind merges in Brahman. The individual soul and the Supreme Soul become one. The aspirant 
goes into samadhi. His consciousness of the body disappears. He loses the knowledge of the outer 
world. He does not see the manifold any more. His reasoning comes to a stop. 

"Trailanga Swami once said that because a man reasons he is conscious of multiplicity, of 
variety. Attaining samadhi, one gives up the body in twenty-one days. Spiritual consciousness is 
not possible without the awakening of the Kundalini. 

"A man who has realized God shows certain characteristics. He becomes like a child or a 
madman, or an inert thing or a ghoul. Further, he is firmly convinced that he is the machine and 
God is its Operator, that God alone is the Doer and all others are His instruments. As some Sikh 
devotees once said to me, even the leaf moves because of God's will. One should be aware that 
everything happens by the will of Rama. The weaver said: 'The price of the cloth, by the will of 
Rama, is one rupee six annas. By the will of Rama the robbery was committed. By the will of Rama 
the robbers were 

arrested. By the will of Rama I too was arrested by the police. And at last, by the will of 
Rama, I was released.' " 

It was dusk. Sri Ramakrishna had had no rest since his midday meal. He had talked 
unceasingly to the devotees about God. At last the visitors took their leave and went home. 

Friday, June 15, 1883 

It was a holiday on account of the Hindu religious festival Dasahara. Among the devotees 
who visited Sri Ramakrishna at Dakshineswar that day were Adhar, M., and Rakhal 's father. 
RakhaTs father's father-in-law was also present. All were seated on the floor of the Master's room. 


Rakhal 's father's father-in-law was a devotee of God. He asked the Master, "Sir, can one 
realize God while leading the life of a householder?" 

MASTER (with a smile): "Why not? Live in the world like a mudfish. The mudfish lives in the 
mud but itself remains unstained. Or live in the world like a loose woman. She attends to her 
household duties, but her mind is always on her sweetheart. Do your duties in the world, fixing 
your mind on God. But this is extremely difficult. I said to the members of the Brahmo Samaj: 
'Suppose a typhoid patient is kept in a room where there are jars of pickles and pitchers of water. 
How can you expect the patient to recover? The very thought of spiced pickles brings water to 
one's mouth.' To a man, woman is like that pickle. The craving for worldly things, which is chronic 
in man, is like the patient's craving for water. There is no end to this craving. The typhoid patient 
says, 'I shall drink a whole pitcher of water.' The situation is very difficult. There is so much 
confusion in the world. If you go this way, you are threatened with a shovel; if you go that way, 
you are threatened with a broomstick; again, in another direction, you are threatened with a 
shoe-beating. Besides, one cannot think of God unless one lives in solitude. The goldsmith melts 
gold to make ornaments. But how can he do his work well if he is disturbed again and again? 
Suppose you are separating rice from bits of husk. You must do it all by yourself. Every now and 
then you have to take the rice in your hand to see how clean it is. But how can you do your work 
well if you are called away again and again?" 

A DEVOTEE: "What then is the way, sir?" 

MASTER: "There is a way. One succeeds if one develops a strong spirit of renunciation. Give 
up at once, with determination, what you know to be unreal. Once, when I was seriously ill, I was 
taken to the physician Gangaprasad Sen. He said to me: 'I shall give you a medicine, but you 
mustn't drink any water. You may take pomegranate juice.' Everyone wondered how I could live 
without water; but I was determined not to drink it. I said to myself: 'I am a paramahamsa and not 
a goose. I shall drink only milk.' 

"You have to spend a few days in solitude. If you but touch the 'granny' you are safe. Turn 
yourself into gold and then live wherever you please. After realizing God and divine love in solitude 
one may live in the world as well. (To Rakhal 's father) That is why I ask the youngsters to stay with 
me; for they will develop love of God by staying here a few days. After that they can very well lead 
the life of a householder." 


DEVOTEE: "If God is responsible for everything, then why should people speak of good and 
evil, virtue and vice? One commits sin also by the will of God, isn't that so?" 

ANOTHER DEVOTEE: "How can we understand the will of God?" 

MASTER: "There is no doubt that virtue and vice exist in the world; but God Himself is 
unattached to them. There may be good and bad smells in the air, but the air is not attached to 
them. The very nature of God's creation is that good and evil, righteousness and unrighteousness, 
will always exist in the world. Among the trees in the garden one finds mango and jack-fruit, and 
hog plum too. Haven't you noticed that even wicked men are needed? Suppose there are rough 
tenants on an estate; then the landlord must send a ruffian to control them." 

The conversation again turned to the life of the householder. 

MASTER (to the devotees): "You see, by leading a householder's life a man needlessly 
dissipates his mental powers. The loss he thus incurs can be made up if he takes to monastic life. 
The first birth is a gift of the father; then comes the second birth, when one is invested with the 
sacred thread. There is still another birth at the time of being initiated into monastic life. The two 
obstacles to spiritual life are 'woman' and 'gold'. Attachment to 'woman' diverts one from the way 
leading to God. Man doesn't know what it is that causes his downfall. Once, while going to the 
Fort, I couldn't see at all that I was driving down a sloping road; but when the carriage went inside 
the Fort, I realized how far down I had come. Alas! Women keep men deluded. Captain says, 'My 
wife is full of wisdom.' The man possessed by a ghost does not realize it. He says, 'Why, I am all 
right!' " 

The devotees listened to these words in deep silence. 

MASTER: "It is not lust alone that one should be afraid of in the life of the world. There is 
also anger. Anger arises when obstacles are placed in the way of desire." 

M: "At meal-time, sometimes a cat stretches out its paw to take the fish from my plate. But 
I cannot show any resentment." 

MASTER: "Why? You may even beat it once in a while. What's the harm? A worldly man 
should hiss, but he shouldn't pour out his venom. He mustn't actually injure others. But he should 
make a show of anger to protect himself from enemies. Otherwise they will injure him. But a 
sannyasi need not even hiss." 

A DEVOTEE: "I find it is extremely difficult for a householder to realize God. How few people 
can lead the life you prescribe for them! I haven't found any." 

MASTER: "Why should that be so? I have heard of a deputy magistrate named Pratap Singh. 
He is a great man. He has many virtues: compassion and devotion to God. He meditates on God. 
Once he sent for me. Certainly there are people like him. 

"The practice of discipline is absolutely necessary. Why shouldn't a man succeed if he 
practises sadhana? But he doesn't have to work hard if he has real faith-faith in his guru's words. 
Once Vyasa was about to cross the Jamuna, when the gopis also arrived there, wishing to go to the 
other side. But no ferry-boat was in sight. They said to Vyasa, 'Revered sir, what shall we do now?' 
'Don't worry', said Vyasa. 'I will take you across. But I am very hungry. Have you anything for me to 
eat?' The gopis had plenty of milk, cream, and butter with them. Vyasa ate it all. Then the gopis 
asked, 'Well, sir, what about crossing the river?' Vyasa stood on the bank of the Jamuna and said, 

'0 Jamuna, if I have not eaten anything today, then may your waters part so that we may all walk 
to the other side.' No sooner did the sage utter these words than the waters of the Jamuna parted. 
The gopis were speechless with wonder. 'He ate so much just now,' they said to themselves, 'and 
he says, "If I have not eaten anything. . ."!' Vyasa had the firm conviction that it was not himself, 
but the Narayana who dwelt in his heart, that had partaken of the food. 

"Sankaracharya was a Brahmajnani, to be sure. But at the beginning he too had the feeling 
of differentiation. He didn't have absolute faith that everything in the world is Brahman. One day 
as he was coming out of the Ganges after his bath, he saw an untouchable, a butcher, carrying a 
load of meat. Inadvertently the butcher touched his body. Sankara shouted angrily, 'Hey there! 
How dare you touch me?' 'Revered sir,' said the butcher, 'I have not touched you, nor have you 
touched me. The Pure Self cannot be the body nor the five elements nor the twenty-four cosmic 
principles.' Then Sankara came to his senses. Once Jadabharata was carrying King Rahugana's 
palanquin and at the same time giving a discourse on Self-Knowledge. The king got down from the 
palanquin and said to Jadabharata, 'Who are you, pray?' The latter answered, 'I am Not this, not 
this-l am the Pure Self.' He had perfect faith that he was the Pure Self. 

'"I am He', 'I am the Pure Self -that is the conclusion of the jnanis. But the bhaktas say, 'The 
whole universe is the glory of God.' Who would recognize a wealthy man without his power and 
riches? But it is quite different when God Himself, gratified by the aspirant's devotion, says to him, 
'You are the same as Myself.' Suppose a king is seated in his court, and his cook enters the hall, sits 
on the throne, and says, '0 King, you and I are the same!' People will certainly call him a madman. 
But suppose one day the king, pleased with the cook's service, says to him: 'Come, sit beside me. 
There is nothing wrong in that. There is no difference between you and me.' Then, if the cook sits 
on the throne with the king, there is no harm in it. It is not good for ordinary people to say, 'I am 
He'. The waves belong to the water. Does the water belong to the waves? 


"The upshot of the whole thing is that, no matter what path you follow, yoga is impossible 
unless the mind becomes quiet. The mind of a yogi is under his control; he is not under the control 
of his mind. When the mind is quiet the prana stops functioning. Then one gets kumbhaka. One 
may have the same kumbhaka through bhaktiyoga as well; the prana stops functioning through 
love of God too. In the kirtan the musician sings, 'Nitai amar mata hati !' Repeating this, he goes 
into a spiritual mood and cannot sing the whole sentence. He simply sings, 'Hati! Hati' When the 
mood deepens he sings only, 'Ha! Ha!' Thus his prana stops through ecstasy, and kumbhaka 

"Suppose a man is sweeping a courtyard with his broom, and another man comes and says 
to him: 'Hello! So-and-so is no more. He is dead.' Now, if the dead person was not related to the 
sweeper, the latter goes on with his work, remarking casually: 'Ah! That's too bad. He is dead. He 
was a good fellow.' The sweeping goes on all the same. But if the dead man was his relative, then 
the broom drops from his hand. 'Ah!' he exclaims, and he too drops to the ground. His prana has 
stopped functioning. He can neither work nor think. Haven't you noticed, among women, that if 
one of them looks at something or listens to something in speechless amazement, the other 

women say to her, 'What? Are you in ecstasy?' In this instance, too, the prana has stopped 
functioning, and so she remains speechless, with mouth agape. 

"It will not do merely to repeat, 'I am He, I am He.' There are certain signs of a Jnani. 
Narendra has big protruding eyes. (Pointing to a devotee) He also has good eyes and forehead. 


"All men are by no means on the same level. It is said that there are four classes of men: the 
bound, the struggling, the liberated, and the ever-free. It is also not a fact that all men have to 
practise spiritual discipline. There are the ever-free and those who achieve perfection through 
spiritual discipline. Some realize God after much spiritual austerity, and some are perfect from 
their very birth. Prahlada is an example of the ever-free. 

"Eternally perfect sages like Prahlada also practise meditation and prayer. But they have 
realized the fruit, God-vision, even before their spiritual practice. They are like gourds and 
pumpkins, which grow fruit first and then flowers. 

(Looking at Rakhal 's father) "Even though an eternally perfect soul is born in a low family, 
still he retains his innate perfection. He cannot do anything else. A pea germinating in a heap of 
cow-dung still grows into a pea-plant. 

"God has given to some greater power than to others. In one man you see it as the light of a 
lamp, in another, as the light of a torch. One word of Vidyasagar's revealed to me the utmost limit 
of his intelligence. When I told him of the different manifestations of 

God's Power in different beings, he said to me, 'Sir, has God then given greater power to 
some than to others?' At once I said: 'Yes, certainly He has; if there are not different degrees of 
manifestation of His Power, then why should your name be known far and wide? You see, we have 
come to you after hearing of your knowledge and compassion. You haven't grown two horns, have 
you?' With all his fame and erudition, Vidyasagar said such a childish thing as 'Has God given 
greater power to some than to others?' The truth is that when the fisherman draws his net, he first 
catches big fish like trout and carp; then he stirs up the mud with his feet, and small fish come 
out-minnows, mud-fish, and so on. So also, unless a man knows God, 'minnows' and the like 
gradually come out from within him. What can one achieve through mere scholarship?" 

Sunday, June 17, 1883 

Sri Ramakrishna was resting in his room in the temple garden at Dakshineswar. It was 
afternoon. Adhar and M. arrived and saluted the Master. A Tantrik devotee also came in. Rakhal , 
Hazra, and Ramlal were staying with Sri Ramakrishna. 

MASTER (to the devotees): "Why shouldn't one be able to attain spirituality, living the life of 
a householder? But it is extremely difficult. Sages like Janaka entered the world after attaining 
Knowledge. But still the world is a place of terror. Even a detached householder has to be careful. 
Once Janaka bent down his head at the sight of a bhairavi. He shrank from seeing a woman. The 
bhairavi said to him: 'Janaka, I see you have not yet attained Knowledge. You still differentiate 
between man and woman.' 

"If you move about in a room filled with soot, you will soil your body, however slightly, no 
matter how clever you may be. I have seen householder devotees filled with spiritual emotion 
while performing their daily worship wearing their silk clothes. They maintain that attitude even 
until they take their refreshments after the worship. But afterwards they become their old selves 
again. They display their rajasic and tamasic natures. 

"Sattva begets bhakti. Even bhakti has three aspects: sattva, rajas, and tamas. The sattva of 
bhakti is pure sattva. When a devotee acquires it he doesn't direct his mind to anything but God. 
He pays only as much attention to his body as is absolutely necessary for its protection. 

"But a paramahamsa is beyond the three gunas. Though they exist in him, yet they are 
practically non-existent. Like a child, he is not under the control of any of the gunas. That is why 
paramahamsas allow small children to come near them- in order to assume their nature. 

"Paramahamsas may not lay things up; but this rule does not apply to householders. They 
must provide for their families." 

TANTRIK DEVOTEE: "Is a paramahamsa aware of virtue and vice?" 

MASTER: "Keshab Sen also asked that question. I said to him, 'If I explain that to you, then 
you won't be able to keep your society together.' 'In that case we had better stop here', said 

"Do you know the significance of virtue and vice? A paramahamsa sees that it is God who 
gives us evil tendencies as well as good tendencies. Haven't you noticed that there are both sweet 
and bitter fruits? Some trees give sweet fruit, and some bitter or sour. God has made the 
mango-tree, which yields sweet fruit, and also the hog plum, which yields sour fruit." 

TANTRIK: "Yes, sir. That is true. On the hill-top one sees extensive rose gardens, reaching as 
far as the eye can see." 

MASTER: "The paramahamsa realizes that all these-good and bad, virtue and vice, real and 
unreal-are only the glories of God's maya. But these are very deep thoughts. One realizing this 
cannot keep an organization together or anything like that." 

TANTRIK: "But the law of karma exists, doesn't it?" 

MASTER: "That also is true. Good produces good, and bad produces bad. Don't you get the 
hot taste if you eat chillies? But these are all God's lila, His play." 

TANTRIK: "Then what is the way for us? We shall have to reap the result of our past karma, 
shall we not?" 

MASTER: "That may be so. But it is different with the devotees of God. Listen to a song: 

mind, you do not know how to farm! Fallow lies the field of your life. If you had only 
worked it well, how rich a harvest you might reap! Hedge it about with Kali's name if you would 
keep your harvest safe; this is the stoutest hedge of all, For Death himself cannot come near it. 

Sooner or later will dawn the day when you must forfeit your precious field; Gather, 
mind, what fruit you may. Sow for your seed the holy name Of God that your guru has given to 
you, faithfully watering it with love; and if you should find the task too hard, call upon Ramprasad 
for help. 

He sang again: 

I have securely blocked the way by which the King of Death will come; Henceforward all my 
doubts and fears are set at naught for ever. Siva Himself is standing guard at the nine doorways of 
my house, which has one Pillar for support, and three ropes to secure it. The Lord has made His 
dwelling-place the thousand-petalled lotus flower within the head, and comforts me with 
never-ceasing care. 

The Master continued: "Anyone who dies in Benares, whether a brahmin or a prostitute, 
will become Siva. When a man sheds tears at the name of Hari, Kali, or Rama, then he has no 
further need of the sandhya and other rites. All actions drop away of themselves. The fruit of 
action does not touch him." 

Again the Master sang: 

As is a man's meditation, so is his feeling of love; as is a man's feeling of love, so is his gain; 
And faith is the root of all. If in the Nectar Lake of Mother Kali's feet my mind remains immersed, 
Of little use are worship, oblations, or sacrifice. 

He sang another song: 

Why should I go to Ganga or Gaya, to Kasi, Kanchi, or Prabhas, So long as I can breathe my 
last with Kali's name upon my lips?.. 

Then he said, "When a man merges himself in God, he can no longer retain wicked or sinful 

TANTRIK: "You have said rightly that he keeps only the 'Knowledge ego'." 

MASTER: "Yes, he keeps only the 'Knowledge ego', the 'devotee ego', the 'servant ego', and 
the 'good ego'. His 'wicked ego' disappears." 

TANTRIK: "Today you have destroyed many of our doubts." 

MASTER: "All doubts disappear when one realizes the Self. 

"Assume the tamasic aspect of bhakti. Say with force: 'What? I have uttered the names of 
Rama and Kali. How can I be in bondage any more? How can I be affected by the law of karma?' " 

The Master sang: 

If only I can pass away repeating Durga's name, How canst Thou then, Blessed One, 
Withhold from me deliverance, 

Wretched though I may be? I may have stolen a drink of wine, or killed a child unborn, Or 
slain a woman or a cow, Or even caused a brahmin's death; But, though it all be true, Nothing of 
this can make me feel the least uneasiness; For through the power of Thy sweet name My 
wretched soul may still aspire Even to Brahmanhood. 

The Master continued: "Faith! Faith! Faith! Once a guru said to his pupil, 'Rama alone has 
become everything.' When a dog began to eat the pupil's bread, he said to it: '0 Rama, wait a little. 
I shall butter Your bread.' Such was his faith in the words of his guru. 

"Worthless people do not have any faith. They always doubt. But doubts do not disappear 
completely till one realizes the Self. 

"In genuine love of God there is no desire. Only through such love does one speedily realize 
God. Attainment of supernatural powers and so on- these are desires. Krishna once said to Arjuna: 
'Friend, you cannot realize God if you acquire even one of the eight supernatural powers. They 
will only add a little to your power.' " 

TANTRIK: "Sir, why don't the rituals of Tantra bear fruit nowadays?" 

MASTER: "It is because people cannot practise them with absolute correctness and 

In conclusion the Master said: "Love of God is the one essential thing. A true lover of God 
has nothing to fear, nothing to worry about. He is aware that the Divine Mother knows everything. 
The cat handles the mouse one way, but its own kitten a very different way." 


Monday, June 18, 1883 

Festival at Panihati 

SRI RAMAKRISHNA had been invited to the great religious festival at Panihati, near Calcutta. 
This "Festival of the Flattened Rice" was inaugurated by Raghunath Das, a disciple of Sri Chaitanya. 
It is said that Raghunath used to run away from home, secretly practise his devotions, and enjoy 
the bliss of spiritual ecstasy. One day Nityananda said to him: "Thief! You run away from home and 
enjoy the love of God all alone. You hide it from us. I shall punish you today. You must arrange a 
religious festival and entertain the devotees with flattened rice." Since then the festival has been 
annually celebrated at Panihati by the Vaishnavas. Thousands of the followers of Sri Chaitanya 
participate in it. Its chief feature is the singing of the names and glories of God, and the dancing of 
the devotees in religious fervour. The centre of the festivity is the temple of Radha-Krishna, built 
on the bank of the Ganges. 

The Master had been invited to the festival by Mani Sen, who was the custodian of the 
temple. Ram, M., Rakhal , Bhavanath, and a few other disciples went with the Master in a carriage. 
On his way to Panihati Sri Ramakrishna was in a light mood and joked with the youngsters. But 
as soon as the carriage reached the place of the festival, the Master, to the utter amazement of 
the devotees, shot into the crowd. He joined the kirtan party of Navadvip Goswami, Mani Sen's 

guru, and danced, totally forgetting the world. Every now and then he stood still in samadhi, 
carefully supported by Navadvip Goswami for fear he might fall to the ground. Thousands of 
devotees were gathered together for the festival. Wherever one looked there was a forest of 
human heads. The crowd seemed to become infected by the Master's divine fervour and swayed 
to and fro, chanting the name of God, until the very air seemed to reverberate with it. rums, 
cymbals, and other instruments produced melodious sounds. The atmosphere became intense 
with spiritual fervour. The devotees felt that Gauranga himself was being manifested in the person 
of Sri Ramakrishna. Flowers were showered from all sides on his feet and head. The shouting of 
the name of Hari was heard even at a distance, like the rumbling of the ocean. 

Sri Ramakrishna entered by turn into all the moods of ecstasy. In deep samadhi he stood 
still, his face radiating a divine glow. In the state of partial consciousness he danced, sometimes 
gently and sometimes with the vigour of a lion. Again, regaining consciousness of the world, he 
sang, himself leading the chorus: 

Behold, the two brothers have come, who weep while chanting Hari's name, the brothers 
who dance in ecstasy and make the world dance in His name! Behold them, weeping themselves, 
and making the whole world weep as well, the brothers who, in return for blows, offer to sinners 
Hari's love. Behold them, drunk with Hari's love, who make the world drunk as well! Behold, the 
two brothers have come, who once were Kanai and Balai of Braja, They who would steal the butter 
out of the pots of the gopi maids. Behold, the two have come, who shatter all the rules of caste, 
embracing everyone as brother, even the outcaste shunned by men; who lose themselves in Hari's 
name, making the whole world mad; who are none other than Hari Himself, and chant His 
hallowed name! Behold them,who saved from their sinful ways the ruffians Jagai and Madhai, 
They who cannot distinguish between a friend and an enemy! Behold the two brothers, Gaur and 
Nitai, who come again to save mankind. 

Again the Master sang: 

See how all Nadia is shaking Under the waves of Gauranga's love! . . . 

The crowd, with the Master in the centre, surged toward the temple of Radha-Krishna. Only 
a small number could enter. The rest stood outside the portal and jostled with one another to 
have a look at Sri Ramakrishna. In a mood of intoxication he began to dance in the courtyard of the 
shrine. Every now and then his body stood transfixed in deep samadhi. Hundreds of people around 
him shouted the name of God, and thousands outside caught the strain and raised the cry with 
full-throated voices. The echo travelled over the Ganges, striking a note in the hearts of people in 
the boats on the holy river, and they too chanted the name of God. 

When the kirtan was over, Mani Sen took Sri Ramakrishna and Navadvip Goswami into a 
room and served them with refreshments. Afterwards Ram, M., and the other devotees were also 
served with the prasad. 

In the afternoon, the Master was sitting in Mani Sen's drawing-room with the devotees. 
Navadvip was also near him. Mani offered the carriage hire to Sri Ramakrishna. Pointing to Ram 

and the others, the Master said: "Why should they accept it from you? They earn money." He 
became engaged in conversation with Navadvip. 


MASTER: "Bhakti matured becomes bhava. Next is mahabhava, then prema, and last of all is 
the attainment of God. Gauranga experienced the states of mahabhava and prema. When prema 
is awakened, a devotee completely forgets the world; he also forgets his body, which is so dear to 
a man. Gauranga experienced prema. He jumped into the ocean, thinking it to be the Jamuna. 
The ordinary jiva does not experience mahabhava or prema. He goes only as far as bhava. But 
Gauranga experienced all three states. Isn't that so?" 

NAVADVIP: "Yes, sir, that is true. The inmost state, the semi-conscious state, and the 
conscious state." 

MASTER: "In the inmost state he would remain in samadhi, unconscious of the outer world. 
In the semi-conscious state he could only dance. In the conscious state he chanted the name of 

Navadvip introduced his son to the Master. The young man was a student of the scriptures. 
He saluted Sri Ramakrishna. 

NAVADVIP: "He studies the scriptures at home. Previously one hardly saw a copy of the 
Vedas in this country. Max Muller has translated them; so people can now read these books." 


MASTER: "Too much study of the scriptures does more harm than good. The important 
thing is to know the essence of the scriptures. After that, what is the need of books? One should 
learn the essence and then dive deep in order to realize God. 


"The Divine Mother has revealed to me the essence of the Vedanta. It is that Brahman 
alone is real and the world illusory. The essence of the Gita is what you get by repeating the word 
ten times. The word becomes reversed. It is then 'tagi', which refers to renunciation. The essence 
of the Gita is: '0 man, renounce everything and practise spiritual discipline for the realization of 
God.' " 

NAVADVIP: "But how can we persuade our minds to renounce?" 

MASTER: "You are a goswami. It is your duty to officiate as priest in the temple. You cannot 
renounce the world; otherwise, who would look after the temple and its services? You have to 
renounce mentally. 

"It is God Himself who has kept you in the world to set an example to men. You may resolve 
in your mind a thousand times to renounce the world, but you will not succeed. God has given you 
such a nature that you must perform your worldly duties. 

"Krishna said to Arjuna: 'What do you mean, you will not fight? By your mere will you 
cannot desist from fighting. Your very nature will make you fight.' " 

At the mere mention of Krishna and Arjuna the Master went into samadhi. In the twinkling 
of an eye his body became motionless and his eyeballs transfixed, while his breathing could 
scarcely be noticed. At this sudden transformation Navadvip and his son and the other devotees 
looked at the Master in mute wonder. 

Regaining partial consciousness, he said to Navadvip: "Yoga and bhoga. You goswamis have 
both. Now your only duty is to call on God and pray to Him sincerely: '0 God, I don't want the 
glories of Thy world-bewitching maya. I want Thee alone!' God dwells in all beings, undoubtedly. 
That being the case, who may be called His devotee? He who dwells in God, he who has merged 
his mind and life and innermost soul in God." 

The Master returned to the sense plane. Referring to his samadhi, he said to Navadvip: 
"Some say that this state of mine is a disease. I say to them, 'How can one become unconscious by 
thinking of Him whose Consciousness has made the whole world conscious?' " 

Mani Sen said good-bye to the invited brahmins and Vaishnavas with suitable gifts of 
money. He offered five rupees to Sri Ramakrishna. The latter said that he could not possibly accept 
any money. But Mani insisted. The Master then asked him in the name of his guru not to press 
him. Mani requested him again to accept the offering. Sri Ramakrishna asked M., in a distressed 
voice, whether he should take the money. The disciple made a vehement protest and said, "No, sir. 
By no means." 

Friends of Mani Sen gave the money to Rakhal , requesting him to buy some mangoes and 
sweets for the Master. Sri Ramakrishna said to M.: "I have definitely said to Mani that I would not 
accept the money. I feel free now. But Rakhal has accepted it. His is now the responsibility." 

Sri Ramakrishna, accompanied by the devotees, took a carriage to return to Dakshineswar. 
They were going to pass the temple garden of Mati Seal on the way. For a long time the Master 
had been asking M. to take him to the reservoir in the garden in order that he might teach him 
how to meditate on the formless God. There were tame fish in the reservoir. Nobody harmed 
them. Visitors threw puffed rice and other bits of food into the water, and the big fish came in 
swarms to eat the food. Fearlessly the fish swam in the water and sported there joyously. 

Coming to the reservoir, the Master said to M.: "Look at the fish. Meditating on the 
formless God is like swimming joyfully like these fish, in the Ocean of Bliss and Consciousness." 

Monday, June 25, 1883 

Sri Ramakrishna was at Balaram Bose's house in Calcutta. Rakhal and M. were seated near 
him. The Master was in ecstasy. He conversed with the devotees in an abstracted mood. 

MASTER: "Let me assure you that a man can realize his Inner Self through sincere prayer. 
But to the extent that he has the desire to enjoy worldly objects, his vision of the Self becomes 

M: "Yes, sir. You always ask us to plunge into God." 

MASTER (joyously): "Yes! That's it. Let me tell you that the realization of Self is possible for 
all, without any exception." 

M: "That is true, sir. But God is the Doer. He works through different beings in different 
ways, according to their capacity to manifest the Divine. God gives to some full spiritual 
consciousness, and others He keeps in ignorance." 

MASTER: "No, that is not so. One should pray to God with a longing heart. God certainly 
listens to prayer if it is sincere. There is no doubt about it." 

A DEVOTEE: "Yes, sir. There is this 'l-consciousness' in us; therefore we must pray." 

MASTER (to M.): "A man should reach the Nitya, the Absolute, by following the trail of the 
Lila, the Relative. It is like reaching the roof by the stairs. After realizing the Absolute, he should 
climb down to the Relative and live on that plane in the company of devotees, charging his mind 
with the love of God. This is my final and most mature opinion. 

"God has different forms, and He sports in different ways. He sports as Isvara, deva, man, 
and the universe. In every age He descends to earth in human form, as an Incarnation, to teach 
people love and devotion. There is the instance of Chaitanya. One can taste devotion and love of 
God only through His Incarnations. Infinite are the ways of God's play, but what I need is love and 
devotion. I want only the milk. The milk comes through the udder of the cow. The Incarnation is 
the udder." 

Was Sri Ramakrislma hinting that he was an Incarnation of God? Did he suggest that those 
who saw him saw God? Did he thus speak about himself when speaking of Chaitanya? 

It was a hot day in June 1883. Sri Ramakrishna was sitting on the steps of the Siva temples in 
the temple garden. M. arrived with ice and other offerings and sat down on the steps after saluting 
the Master. 

MASTER (to M.): "The husband of Mani Mallick's granddaughter was here. He read in a 
book that God could not be said to be quite wise and omniscient; otherwise, why should there be 
so much misery in the world? As regards death, it would be much better to kill a man all at once, 
instead of putting him through slow torture. Further, the author writes that if he himself were the 
Creator, he would have created a better world." 

M. listened to these words in surprise and made no comment. 


MASTER (to M.): "Can a man ever understand God's ways? I too think of God sometimes as 
good and sometimes as bad. He has kept us deluded by His great illusion. Sometimes He wakes us 
up and sometimes He keeps us unconscious. One moment the ignorance disappears, and the next 
moment it covers our mind. If you throw a brick-bat into a pond covered with moss, you get a 

glimpse of the water. But a few moments later the moss comes dancing back and covers the 


"One is aware of pleasure and pain, birth and death, disease and grief, as long as one is 
identified with the body. All these belong to the body alone, and not to the Soul. After the death of 
the body, perhaps God carries one to a better place. It is like the birth of the child after the pain of 
delivery. Attaining Self-Knowledge, one looks on pleasure and pain, birth and death, as a dream. 

"How little we know! Can a one-seer pot hold ten seers of milk? If ever a salt doll ventures 
into the ocean to measure its depth, it cannot come back and give us the information. It melts into 
the water and disappears." 

At dusk the evening service began in the different temples. The Master was sitting on the 
small couch in his room, absorbed in contemplation of the Divine Mother. Several devotees also 
were there. M. was going to spend the night with the Master. 

A little later Sri Ramakrishna began to talk to a devotee privately, on the verandah north of 
his room. He said: "It is good to meditate in the small hours of the morning and at dawn. One 
should also meditate daily after dusk." He instructed the devotee about meditation on the 
Personal God and on the Impersonal Reality. 

After a time he sat on the semicircular porch west of his room. It was about nine o'clock. 

MASTER: "Those who come here will certainly have all their doubts removed. What do you 


M: "That is true, sir." 

A boat was moving in the Ganges, far away from the bank. The boatman began to sing. The 
sound of his voice floating over the river reached the Master's ears, and he went into a spiritual 
mood. The hair on his body stood on end. He said to M., "Just feel my body." 

M. was greatly amazed. He thought: "The Upanishads describe Brahman as permeating the 
universe and the ether. Has that Brahman, as sound, touched the Master's body?" 

After a time Sri Ramakrishna began to converse again. 

MASTER: "Those who come here must have been born with good tendencies. Isn't that 


M: "It is true, sir." MASTER: "Adhar must have good tendencies." 
M: "That goes without saying." 

M: "That is true, sir. If a thread has a single fibre sticking out, it cannot pass through the eye 
of a needle." 

MASTER: "If a man finds a hair in the food he is chewing, he spits out the entire morsel." 

M: "But you say that the man who has realized God cannot be injured by evil company. A 
blazing fire burns up even a plantain-tree." 

Saturday, July 14, 1883 

Sri Ramakrishna arrived at Adhar's house in Calcutta. Rakhal, M., and other devotees were 
with the Master. Adhar had arranged to have Rajnaraya, the famous singer, and his party, recite 
the Chandi. 

Rajnarayan began the recital in the worship hall. He sang: 

I have surrendered my soul at the fearless feet of the Mother; Am I afraid of Death 
anymore? . . . 

As the Master listened, he became filled with divine fervour and joined the musicians. Now 
and then he improvised an appropriate line. Suddenly he went into samadhi and stood still. 

The singer sang again: 

Who is the Woman yonder who lights the field of battle? Darker Her body gleams even than 
the darkest storm-cloud, And from Her teeth there flash the lightning's blinding flames! 
Dishevelled Her hair is flying behind as She rushes about, Undaunted in this war between the gods 
and the demons. Laughing Her terrible laugh, She slays the fleeing asuras, And with Her dazzling 
flashes She bares the horror of war. How beautiful on Her brow the drops of moisture appear! 
About Her dense black hair the bees are buzzing in swarms; The moon has veiled its face, 
beholding this Sea of Beauty. Tell me, who can She be, this Sorceress? Wonder of wonders! Siva 
Himself, like a corpse, lies vanquished at Her feet. Kamalakanta has guessed who She is, with the 
elephant's gait; 

She is none other than Kali, Mother of all the worlds. Sri Ramakrishna was in deep samadhi. 
Saturday, July 21, 1883 

It was about four o'clock in the afternoon when Sri Ramakrishna, with Ramlal and one or 
two other devotees, started from Dakshineswar for Calcutta in a carriage. As the carriage passed 
the gate of the Kali temple, they met M. coming on foot with four mangoes in his hand. The 
carriage stopped and M. saluted the Master. Sri Ramakrishna was going to visit some of his 
devotees in Calcutta. 

MASTER (to M., with a smile): "Come with us. We are going to Adhar's house." 

M. got joyfully into the carriage. Having received an English education, he did not believe in 
the tendencies inherited from previous births. But he had admitted a few days before that it was 
on account of Adhar's good tendencies from past births that he showed such great devotion to the 
Master. Later on he had thought about this subject and had discovered that he was not yet 
completely convinced about inherited tendencies. He had come to Dakshineswar that day to 
discuss the matter with Sri Ramakrishna. 

MASTER: "Well, what do you think of Adhar?" 

M: "He has great yearning for God." 

MASTER: "Adhar, too, speaks very highly of you." 

M. remained silent awhile and then began to speak of past tendencies. 

M: "I haven't much faith in rebirth and inherited tendencies. Will that in any way injure my 
devotion to God?" 


MASTER: "It is enough to believe that all is possible in God's creation. Never allow the 
thought to cross your mind that your ideas are the only true ones, and that those of others are 
false. Then God will explain everything. 

"What can a man understand of God's activities? The facets of God's creation are infinite. 
I do not try to understand God's actions at all. I have heard that everything is possible in God's 
creation, and I always bear that in mind. Therefore I do not give a thought to the world, but 
meditate on God alone. Once Hanuman was asked, 'What day of the lunar month is it?' Hanuman 
said: 'I don't know anything about the day of the month, the position of the moon and stars, or any 
such things. I think of Rama alone.' 

"Can one ever understand the work of God? He is so near; still it is not possible for us to 
know Him. Balarama did not realize that Krishna was God." 

M: "That is true, sir." 


MASTER: "God has covered all with His maya. He doesn't let us know anything. Maya is 
'woman and gold'. He who puts maya aside to see God, can see Him. Once, when I was explaining 
God's actions to someone, God suddenly showed me the lake at Kamarpukur. I saw a man 
removing the green scum and drinking the water. The water was clear as crystal. God revealed to 
me that Satchidananda is covered by the scum of maya. He who puts the green scum aside can 
drink the water. 

"Let me tell you a very secret experience. Once I had entered the wood near the pine-grove, 
and was sitting there, when I had a vision of something like the hidden door of a chamber. I 
couldn't see the inside of the chamber. I tried to bore a hole in the door with a nail-knife, but did 
not succeed. As I bored, the earth fell back into the hole and filled it. Then suddenly I made a very 
big opening." 

Uttering these words, the Master remained silent. After a time he said: "These are very 
profound words. I feel as if someone were pressing my mouth. ... I have seen with my own eyes 
that God dwells even in the sexual organ. I saw Him once in the sexual intercourse of a dog and a 

"The universe is conscious on account of the Consciousness of God. Sometimes I find that 
this Consciousness wriggles about, as it were, even in small fish." 

The carriage came to the crossing at Shovabazar in Calcutta. The Master continued, saying, 
"Sometimes I find that the universe is saturated with the Consciousness of God, as the earth is 
soaked with water in the rainy season. 

"Well, I see so many visions, but I never feel vain about them." 

M. (with a smile): "That you should speak of vanity, sir!" 

MASTER: "Upon my word, I don't feel vanity even in the slightest degree." 

M: "There once lived a man in Greece, Socrates by name. A voice from heaven said that he 
was wise among men. Socrates was amazed at this revelation. He meditated on it a long time in 
solitude and then realized its significance. He said to his friends, 'I alone of all people have 
understood that I do not know anything.' But every man believes he is wise. In reality all are 

MASTER: "Now and then I think, 'What is it I know that makes so many people come to 

me?' Vaishnavcharan was a great pundit. He used to say to me: 'I can find in the scriptures all the 

things you talk about. But do you know why I come to you? I come to hear them from your mouth.' 

M: "All your words tally with the scriptures. Navadvip Goswami also said that the other day 
at the festival at Panihati. You told us that day that by repeating the word 'Gita' a number of times 
one reverses it and it becomes 'tagi', which refers to renunciation. 

Renunciation is the essence of the Gita. Navadvip Goswami supported your statement from 
the grammatical standpoint." 

MASTER: "Have you found anyone else resembling me-any pundit or holy man?" 

M: "God has created you with His own hands, whereas He has made others by machine. All 
others He has created according to law." 

MASTER (laughing, to Ramlal and the other devotees): "Listen to what he is saying!" 

Sri Ramakrishna laughed for some time, and said at last. "Really and truly I have no 
pride-no, not even the slightest bit." 

M: "Knowledge does us good in one respect at least; it makes us feel that we do not know 
anything, that we are nothing." 

MASTER: "Right you are! I am nothing. I am nobody. "Do you believe in English astronomy?" 

M: "It is possible to make new discoveries by applying the laws of Western astronomy. 
Observing the irregular movement of Uranus, the astronomers looked through their telescopes 
and discovered Neptune shining in the sky. They can also foretell eclipses." 

MASTER: "Yes, that is so." 

Master's visits to various devotees 

The carriage drove on. They were approaching Adhar's house. Sri Ramakrishna said to M., 
"Dwell in the truth and you will certainly realize God." 

M: "You said the other day to Navadvip Goswami:'0 God, I want Thee. Please do not delude 
me with Thy world-bewitching maya. I want to realize Thee.' " 

MASTER: "Yes, one should be able to say that from one's innermost soul." Sri Ramakrishna 
arrived at Adhar's house and took a seat in the parlour. Ramlal, Adhar, M., and the other devotees 
sat near him. Rakhal was staying with his father in Calcutta. 

MASTER (to Adhar): "Didn't you let Rakhal know that I was coming?" ADHAR: "Yes, sir. I 
have sent him word." Finding that the Master was eager to see Rakhal , Adhar at once sent his 
carriage to fetch him. Adhar had been yearning to see the Master that day, but he had not 
definitely known that Sri Ramakrishna was coming. ADHAR: "You haven't been here for a long 
time. I prayed to God today that you might come. I even shed tears" 

The Master was pleased and said with a smile, "You don't mean that!" 

It was dusk and the lamps were lighted. Sri Ramakrishna saluted the Divine Mother with 
folded hands and sat quietly absorbed in meditation. Then he began to chant the names of God in 
his sweet voice: "Govinda! Govinda! Satchidananda! Hari! Hari!" Every word he uttered showered 
nectar on the ears of the devotees. 

Ramlal sang in praise of Kali, the Divine Mother: 

Thy name, I have heard, Consort of Siva, is the destroyer of our fear, And so on Thee I cast 
my burden: Save me! Save me, kindly Mother! Out of Thy womb the world is born, and Thou it is 
that dost pervade it. Art Thou Kali? Art Thou Radha? Who can ever rightly say? Mother, in every 
living creature Thou dost have Thy dwelling place; As Kundalini Thou dost live in the lotus of the 
Muladhara. Above it lies the Svadhisthana, where the four-petalled lotus blooms; There also Thou 
dost make Thy home, mystic power of Kundalini, In the four petals of that flower, and in 
Vajrasana's six petals At the navel is Manipura, the blue ten-petalled lotus flower; Through the 
pathway of Sushumna, Thou dost ascend and enter there. Lady of the lotuses, in lotus blossoms 
Thou dost dwell! Beyond them lies the Lake of Nectar, in the region of the heart, where the 
twelve-petalled lotus flower enchants the eye with scarlet flame. When Thou dost open it, 
Mother, touching it with Thy Lotus Feet, The age-long darkness of the heart instantly scatters at 
Thy sight. Above, in the throat, is the sixteen-petalled lotus flower, of smoky hue; within the petals 
of this flower there lies concealed a subtle space, transcending which, one sees at length the 
universe in Space dissolve. And higher yet, between the eyebrows, blossoms the lotus of two 

petals, where the mind of man remains a prisoner and past controlling; from this flower the mind 
desires to watch the sportive play of life. 

Highest of all, within the head, the soul-enthralling centre is, where shines the 
thousand-petalled lotus, Mahadeva's dwelling place. Having ascended to His throne, Spouse of 
Siva, sit beside Him! Thou art the Primal Power, Mother! She whose senses are controlled; the 
yogis meditate on Thee as Uma, great Himalaya's daughter. Thou who art the Power of Siva! Put to 
death my ceaseless cravings; Grant that I never fall again into the ocean of this world. Mother, 
Thou art the Primal Power, Thou the five cosmic principles; who can ever hope to know Thee, who 
art beyond all principles? Only for Thy bhaktas' sake dost Thou assume Thy various forms; but 
when Thy devotee's five senses merge in the five elements, Mother, it is Thyself alone that he 
beholds as formless Truth. 

As Ramlal sang the lines: 

Above, in the throat, is the sixteen-petalled lotus flower, of smoky hue; within the petals of 
this flower there lies concealed a subtle space, transcending which, one sees at length the universe 
in Space dissolve, 

The Master said to M.: "Listen. This is known as the vision of Satchidananda, the Formless 
Brahman. The Kundalini, rising above the Visuddha chakra, enables one to see everything as 

M: "Yes, sir." 

MASTER: "One attains the Absolute by going beyond the universe and its created beings 
conjured up by maya. By passing beyond the Nada one goes into samadhi. By repeating 'Om' one 
goes beyond the Nada and attains samadhi." 

Adhar served Sri Ramakrishna with fruits and sweets. The Master left for Jadu Mallick's 


Sri Ramakrishna entered the room in Jadu's house where the Divine Mother was 
worshipped. He stood before the image, which had been decorated with flowers, garlands, and 
sandal-paste, and which radiated a heavenly beauty and splendour. Lights were burning before the 
pedestal. A priest was seated before the image. The Master asked one of his companions to offer a 
rupee in the shrine, according to the Hindu custom. 

Sri Ramakrishna stood a long time with folded hands before the blissful image, the devotees 
standing behind him. Gradually he went into samadhi, his body becoming motionless and his eyes 

With a long sigh he came back to the world of the senses and said, still intoxicated with 
divine fervour, "Mother, good-bye." But he could not leave the place. He remained standing there. 
Addressing Ramlal, he said: "Please sing that song. Then I shall be all right." 

Ramlal sang: 

Mother, Consort of Siva, Thou hast deluded this world. . . . 

The Master went to the drawing-room with the devotees. Every now and then he said, "0 
Mother, please dwell in my heart." Jadu was sitting in the drawing-room with his friends. The 
Master sat down, still in an ecstatic mood, and sang: 

Mother, ever blissful as Thou art, do not deprive Thy worthless child of bliss! . . . 

Finishing the song, he said to Jadu, still in a state of divine fervour: "Well, sir, what shall I 
sing? Shall I sing 'Mother, am I Thine eight-months child'? " 

He sang: 

Mother, am I Thine eight-months child? Thy red eyes cannot frighten me! My riches are Thy 
Lotus Feet, which Siva holds upon His breast; Yet, when I seek my heritage, I meet with excuses 
and delays. A deed of gift I hold in my heart, attested by Thy Husband Siva; I shall sue Thee, if I 
must, and with a single point shall win. If Thou dost oppose me, Thou wilt learn what sort of 
mother's son I am. This bitterly contested suit between the Mother and Her son- What sport it is! 
says Ramprasad. I shall not cease tormenting Thee Till Thou Thyself, shalt yield the fight and take 
me in Thine arms at last. 

Coming down nearly to a normal state, the Master said, "I shall take some of the Divine 
Mother's prasad." Then he ate a little of it. 

Jadu Mallick was sitting near him with several friends, among whom were a few of his 

MASTER (with a smile): "Well, why do you keep these buffoons with you?" 

JADU (with a smile): "Suppose they are. Won't you redeem them?" 

MASTER (smiling): "The water of the Ganges cannot purify a wine-jar." 

Jadu had promised the Master that he would arrange a recital of the Chandi in his house. 
Some time had elapsed, but he had not yet kept his promise. 

MASTER: "Well, what about the recital of the Chandi?" 

JADU: "I have been busy with many things; I haven't been able to arrange it." 

MASTER: "How is that? A man gives his word and doesn't take it back! 'The words of a man 
are like the tusks of the elephant: they come out but do not go back.' A man must be true to his 
word. What do you say?" 

JADU (with a smile): "You are right." 

MASTER: "You are a shrewd man. You do a thing after much calculation. You are like the 
brahmin who selects a cow that eats very little, supplies plenty of dung, and gives much milk." (All 

After a time he said to Jadu: "I now understand your nature. It is half warm and half cold. 
You are devoted to God and also to the world." 

The Master and his devotees were served by Jadu with sweets and fruit, and then the party 
left for the home of Khelat Ghosh. 

Khelat Ghosh's house was a big mansion, but it looked deserted. As the Master entered the 
house he fell into an ecstatic mood. M., Ramlal, and a few other devotees were with him. Their 
host was Khelat Ghosh's brother-in-law. He was an old man, a Vaishnava. His body was stamped 
with the name of God, according to the Vaishnava custom, and he carried in his hand a small bag 
containing his rosary. He had visited the Master, now and then, at Dakshineswar. But most of the 
Vaishnavas held narrow religious views; they criticized the Vedantists and the followers of the Siva 
cult. Sri Ramakrishna soon began to speak. 


MASTER: "It is not good to feel that one's own religion alone is true and all others are false. 
God is one only, and not two. Different people call on Him by different names: some as Allah, 
some as God, and others as Krishna, Siva, and Brahman. It is like the water in a lake. Some drink it 
at one place and call it 'jal', others at another place and call it 'pani', and still others at a third place 
and call it 'water'. The Hindus call it 'jal', the Christians 'water', and the Mussalmans 'pani'. But it is 
one and the same thing. Opinions are but paths. Each religion is only a path leading to God, as 
rivers come from different directions and ultimately become one in the one ocean. 


"The Truth established in the Vedas, the Puranas, and the Tantras is but one Satchidananda. 
In the Vedas It is called Brahman, in the Puranas It is called Krishna, Rama, and so on, and in the 
Tantras It is called Siva. The one Satchidananda is called Brahman, Krishna, and Siva." 

The devotees were silent. 

A VAISHNAVA DEVOTEE: "Sir, why should one think of God at all" 

MASTER: "If a man really has that knowledge, then he is indeed liberated though living in a 



"Not all, by any means, believe in God. They simply talk. The worldly-minded have heard 
from someone that God exists and that everything happens by His will; but it is not their inner 

"Do you know what a worldly man's idea of God is like? It is like the children's swearing by 
God when they quarrel. They have heard the word while listening to their elderly aunts quarreling. 

"Is it possible for all to comprehend God? God has created the good and the bad, the 
devoted and the impious, the faithful and the sceptical. The wonders that we see all exist in His 
creation. In one place there is more manifestation of His Power, in another less. The sun's light is 
better reflected by water than by earth, and still better by a mirror. Again, there are different 

levels among the devotees of God: superior, mediocre, and inferior. All this has been described in 

VAISHNAVA: "True, sir." 


MASTER: "The inferior devotee says, 'God exists, but He is very far off, up there in heaven.' 
The mediocre devotee says, 'God exists in all beings as life and consciousness.' The superior 
devotee says: 'It is God Himself who has become everything; whatever I see is only a form of God. 
It is He alone who has become maya, the universe, and all living beings. Nothing exists but God.' " 

VAISHNAVA: "Does anyone ever attain that state of mind?" 

MASTER: "One cannot attain it unless one has seen God. But there are signs that a man has 
had the vision of God. A man who has seen God sometimes behaves like a madman: he laughs, 
weeps, dances, and sings. Sometimes he behaves like a child, a child five years old-guileless, 
generous, without vanity, unattached to anything, not under the control of any of the gunas, 
always blissful. Sometimes he behaves like a ghoul: he doesn't differentiate between things pure 
and things impure; he sees no difference between things clean and things unclean. And sometimes 
he is like an inert thing, staring vacantly: he cannot do any work; he cannot strive for anything." 

Was the Master making a veiled reference to his own states of mind? 


MASTER (to the Vaishnava devotee): "The feeling of 'Thee and Thine' is the outcome of 
Knowledge; 'I and mine' comes from ignorance. Knowledge makes one feel: '0 God, Thou art the 
Doer and I am Thy instrument. God, to Thee belongs all-body, mind, house, family, living beings, 
and the universe. All these are Thine. Nothing belongs to me.' 

"An ignorant person says, 'Oh, God is there-very far off.' The man of Knowledge knows that 
God is right here, very near, in the heart; that He has assumed all forms and dwells in all hearts as 
their Inner Controller." 

Sunday, July 22, 1883 

Taking advantage of the holiday, many householder devotees visited Sri Ramakrishna in his 
room at the Dakshineswar temple garden. The Young devotees, mostly students, generally came 
on week-days. Sometimes the Master asked his intimate disciples to come on a Tuesday or a 
Saturday, days that he considered very auspicious for special religious instruction. Adhar, Rakhal , 
and M. had come from Calcutta in a hired carriage. 

Sri Ramakrishna had enjoyed a little rest after his midday meal. The room had an 
atmosphere of purity and holiness. On the walls hung pictures of gods and goddesses, among 
them one of Christ rescuing the drowning Peter. Outside the room were plants laden with fragrant 
flowers, and the Ganges could be seen flowing toward the south. The Master was seated on the 

small couch, facing the north, and the devotees sat on mats and carpets spread on the floor. All 
eyes were directed toward him. Mani Mallick, an old Brahmo devotee about sixty-five years of age, 
came to pay his respects to the Master. He had returned a few months earlier from a pilgrimage to 
Benares and was recounting his experiences to Sri Ramakrishna. 


MANI MALLICK: "A monk whom I met in Benares said that no religious experience is 
possible without the control of the sense-organs. Nothing could be achieved by merely crying, 
'God! God!'" 

MASTER: "Do you understand the views of teachers like him? According to them, one must 
first practise spiritual discipline: self-restraint, self-control, forbearance, and the like. Their aim is 
to attain Nirvana. They are followers of Vedanta. They constantly discriminate, saying, 'Brahman 
alone is real, and the world illusory.' But this is an extremely difficult path. If the world is illusory, 
then you too are illusory. The teacher who gives the instruction is equally illusory. His words, too, 
are as illusory as a dream. 

"But this experience is beyond the reach of the ordinary man. Do you know what it is like? If 
you burn camphor nothing remains. When wood is burnt at least a little ash is left. Finally, after 
the last analysis, the devotee goes into samadhi. Then he knows nothing whatsoever of T, 'you', or 
the universe. 

"Padmalochan was a man of deep wisdom. He had great respect for me, though at that 
time I constantly repeated the name of the Divine Mother. He was the court pundit of the 
Maharaja of Burdwan. Once he came to Calcutta and went to live in a garden house near 
kamarhati. I felt a desire to see him and sent Hriday there to learn if the pundit had any vanity. I 
was told that he had none. Then I met him. Though a man of great knowledge and scholarship, he 
began to weep on hearing me sing Ramprasad's devotional songs. We talked together a long while; 
conversation with nobody else gave me such satisfaction. He said to me, 'Give up the desire for the 
company of devotees; otherwise people of all sorts will come to you and make you deviate from 
your spiritual ideal.' Once he entered into a controversy, by correspondence, with Utshavananda, 
Vaishnavcharan's guru. He told me an interesting incident. Once a meeting was called to decide 
which of the two deities, Siva or Brahma, was the greater. Unable to come to any decision, the 
pundits at last referred the matter to Padmalochan. With characteristic guilelessness he said: 'How 
do I know? Neither I nor any of my ancestors back to the fourteenth generation have seen Siva or 
Brahma.' About the renunciation of 'woman and gold', he said to me one day: 'Why have you given 
up those things? Such distinctions as "This is money and that is clay" are the outcome of 
ignorance.' What could I say to that? I replied: 'I don't know all these things, my dear sir. But for 
my part, I cannot relish such things as money and the like.' 

"There was a pundit who was tremendously vain. He did not believe in the forms of God. 
But who can understand the inscrutable ways of the Divine? God revealed Himself to him as the 
Primal Power. This vision made the pundit unconscious for a long time. After regaining partial 
consciousness he uttered only the sound 'Ka! Ka! Ka!' He could not fully pronounce 'Kali'." 

A DEVOTEE: "Sir, you met Pundit Vidyasagar. What did you think of him?" 

MASTER: "Vidyasagar has both scholarship and charity, but he lacks inner vision. Gold lies 
hidden within him. Had he but found it out, his activities would have been reduced; finally they 
would have stopped altogether. Had he but known that God resides in his heart, his mind would 
have been directed to God in thought and meditation. Some persons must perform selfless work a 
long time before they can practise dispassion and direct their minds to the spiritual ideal and at 
last be absorbed in God. 


"The activities that Vidyasagar is engaged in are good. Charity is very noble. There is a great 
deal of difference between daya, compassion, and maya, attachment. Daya is good, but not maya. 
Maya is love for one's relatives-one's wife, children, brother, sister, nephew, father, and mother. 
But daya is the same love for all created beings without any distinction." 

M: "Is daya also a bondage?" 

MASTER: "Yes, it is. But that concept is something far beyond the ordinary man. Daya 
springs from sattva. Sattva preserves, rajas creates, and tamas destroys. But Brahman is beyond 
the three gunas. It is beyond Prakriti. 

"None of the three gunas can reach Truth; they are like robbers, who cannot come to a 
public place for fear of being arrested. Sattva, rajas, and tamas are like so many robbers. 

"Listen to a story. Once a man was going through a forest, when three robbers fell upon him 
and robbed him of all his possessions. One of the robbers said, 'What's the use of keeping this man 
alive?' So saying, he was about to kill him with his sword, when the second robber interrupted him, 
saying: 'Oh, no! What is the use of killing him? Tie him hand and foot and leave him here.' The 
robbers bound his hands and feet and went away. 

After a while the third robber returned and said to the man: 'Ah, I am sorry. Are you hurt? I 
will release you from your bonds.' After setting the man free, the thief said: 'Come with me. I will 
take you to the public highway.' After a long time they reached the road. Then the robber said: 
'Follow this road. Over there is your house.' At this the man said: 'Sir, you have been very good to 
me. Come with me to my house ' 'Oh, no!' the robber replied. 'I can't go there. The police will 
know it.' 

This world itself is the forest. The three robbers prowling here are sattva, rajas, and tamas. 
It is they that rob a man of the Knowledge of Truth. Tamas wants to destroy him. Rajas binds him 
to the world. But sattva rescues him from the clutches of rajas and tamas. Under the protection of 
sattva, man is rescued from anger, passion, and the other evil effects of tamas. Further, sattva 
loosens the bonds of the world. But sattva also is a robber. It cannot give him the ultimate 
Knowledge of Truth, though it shows him the road leading to the Supreme Abode of God. Setting 

him on the path, sattva tells him: 'Look yonder. There is your home.' Even sattva is far away from 
the Knowledge of Brahman. 


"What Brahman is cannot be described. Even he who knows It cannot talk about It. There is 
a saying that a boat, once reaching the 'black waters' of the ocean, cannot come back. 


"Once four friends, in the course of a walk, saw a place enclosed by a wall. The wall was 
very high. They all became eager to know what was inside. One of them climbed to the top of the 
wall. What he saw on looking inside made him speechless with wonder. He only cried, 'Ah! Ah!' and 
dropped in. He could not give any information about what he saw. The others, too, climbed the 
wall, uttered the same cry, 'Ah! Ah!', and jumped in. Now who could tell what was inside? 

"Sages like Jadabharata and Dattatreya, after realizing Brahman, could not describe It. A 
man's T completely disappears when he goes into samadhi after attaining the Knowledge of 
Brahman. That is why Ramprasad sang, addressing his mind: 

If you should find the task too hard, call upon Ramprasad for help. 

The mind must completely merge itself in Knowledge. But that is not enough. 'Ramprasad', 
that is, the principle of T, must vanish too. Then alone does one get the Knowledge of Brahman." 

A DEVOTEE: "Sir, is it possible then that Sukadeva did not have the ultimate Knowledge?" 

MASTER: "According to some people, Sukadeva only saw and touched the Ocean of 
Brahman; he did not dive into It. That is why he could return to the world and impart religious 
instruction. According to others, he returned to the world of name and form, after attaining the 
Knowledge of Brahman, for the purpose of teaching others. He had to recite the Bhagavata to King 
Parikshit and had to teach people in various ways; therefore God did not destroy his T altogether. 
God kept in him the 'ego of Knowledge.'" 


DEVOTEE: "Can one keep up an organization after attaining the Knowledge of Brahman?" 

MASTER: "Once I talked to Keshab Sen about the Knowledge of Brahman. He asked me to 
explain it further. I said, 'If I proceed further, then you won't be able to preserve your organization 
and following.' 'Then please stop here!' replied Keshab. (All laugh.) But still I said to Keshab: ' "I" 
and "mine" indicate ignorance. Without ignorance one cannot have such a feeling as "I am the 
doer; these are my wife, children, possessions, name and fame".' Thereupon Keshab said, 'Sir, if 
one gave up the "I", nothing whatsoever would remain.' I reassured him and said: 'I am not asking 
you to give up all of the "I". You should give up only the "unripe I". The "unripe I" makes one feel: 
"I am the doer. These are my wife and children. I am a teacher." Renounce this, "unripe I" and 
keep the "ripe I", which will make you feel that you are the servant of God, His devotee, and that 
God is the Doer and you are His instrument.' " 

DEVOTEE: "Can the 'ripe I' form an organization?" 

MASTER: "I said to Keshab Sen that the T that says, 'I am a leader, I have formed this party, 
I am teaching people', is the 'unripe I'. It is very difficult to preach religion. It is not possible to do 
so without receiving the commandment of God. The permission of God is necessary. Shukadeva 
had a command from God to recite the Bhagavata. If, after realizing God, a man gets His command 
and becomes a preacher or teacher, then that preaching or teaching does no harm. His T is not 
'unripe'; it is 'ripe'. 

"I asked Keshab to give up this 'unripe I'. The ego that feels, 'I am the servant of God and 
lover of God' does not injure one. I said to him: 'You have been constantly talking of your 
organization and your followers. But people also go away from your organization.' Keshab 
answered: 'It is true, sir. After staying in it several years, people go to another organization. What 
is worse, on deserting me they abuse me right and left.' 'Why don't you study their nature?' I said. 
'Is there any good in making anybody and everybody a disciple?' 

"I said to Keshab further: 'You should accept the Divine Mother, the Primal Energy. 
Brahman is not different from Its Sakti. What is Brahman is also Sakti. As long as a man remains 
conscious of the body, he is conscious of duality. It is only when a man tries to describe what he 
sees that he finds duality.' Keshab later on recognized Kali. 

"One day when Keshab was here with his disciples, I said to him that I would like to hear 
him preach. He delivered a lecture in the chandni. Then we all sat by the bathing-ghat and had a 
long conversation. I said to him: 'It is Bhagavan alone who in one form appears as bhakta, and in 
another as the Bhagavata. Please repeat "Bhagavata-Bhakta-Bhagavan".' Keshab and his disciples 
repeated the words. Then I asked him to repeat 'Guru-Krishna-Vaishnava'. Thereupon Keshab said: 
'Sir, I should not go so far now. People will say that I have become an orthodox Hindu.' 

"It is extremely difficult to go beyond the three gunas. One cannot reach that state without 
having realized God. Man dwells in the realm of maya. Maya does not permit him to see God. It 
has made him a victim of ignorance. 


"Once Hriday brought a bull-calf here. I saw, one day, that he had tied it with a rope in the 
garden, so that it might graze there. I asked him, 'Hriday, why do you tie the calf there every day?' 
'Uncle,' he said, 'I am going to send this calf to our village. When it grows strong I shall yoke it to 
the plough.' As soon as I heard these words I was stunned to think: 'How inscrutable is the play of 
the divine maya! Kamarpukur and Sihore are so far away from Calcutta! This poor calf must go all 
that way. Then it will grow, and at length it will be yoked to the plough. This is indeed the world! 
This is indeed maya!' I fell down unconscious. Only after a long time did I regain consciousness." 

It was three or four o'clock in the afternoon. M. found Sri Ramakrishna seated on the couch 
in an abstracted mood. After some time he heard him talking to the Divine Mother. The Master 
said, "0 Mother, why hast Thou given him only a particle?" Remaining silent a few moments, he 

added: "I understand it, Mother. That little bit will be enough for him and will serve Thy purpose. 
That little bit will enable him to teach people." 

Did the Master thus transmit spiritual powers to his disciples? Did he thus come to know 
that his disciples, after him, would go out into the world as teachers of men? 

Rakhal was in the room. Sri Ramakrishna was still in a state of partial consciousness when 
he said to Rakhal : "You were angry with me, weren't you? Do you know why I made you angry? 
There was a reason. Only then would the medicine work. The surgeon first brings an abscess to a 
head. Only then does he apply a herb so that it may burst and dry up." 

After a pause he went on: "Yes, I have found Hazra to be like a piece of dry wood. Then why 
does he live here? This has a meaning too. The play is enlivened by the presence of trouble-makers 
like Jatila and Kutila. 

(To M.) "One must accept the forms of God. Do you know the meaning of the image of 
Jagaddhatri? She is the Bearer of the Universe. Without her support and protection the universe 
would fall from its place and be destroyed. The Divine Mother, Jagaddhatri, reveals Herself in the 
heart of one who can control the mind, which may be compared to an elephant." 

RAKHAL: "The mind is a mad elephant." 

MASTER: "Therefore the lion, the carrier of the Divine Mother, keeps it under control." 

It was dusk. The evening service began in the temples. Sri Ramakrishna was chanting the 
names of the gods and goddesses. He was seated on the small couch, with folded hands, and 
became absorbed in contemplation of the Divine Mother. The world outside was flooded with 
moonlight, and the devotees inside the Master's room sat in silence and looked at his serene face. 

In the mean time Govinda of Belgharia and some of his friends had entered the room. Sri 
Ramakrishna was still in a semi-conscious state. After a few minutes he said to the devotees: "Tell 
me your doubts. I shall explain everything." 

Govinda and the other devotees looked thoughtful. 


GOVINDA: "Revered sir, why does the Divine Mother have a black complexion?" 

MASTER: "You see Her as black because you are far away from Her. Go near and you will 
find Her devoid of all colour. The water of a lake appears black from a distance. Go near and take 
the water in your hand, and you will see that it has no colour at all. Similarly, the sky looks blue 
from a distance. But look at the atmosphere near you; it has no colour. The nearer you come to 
God, the more you will realize that He has neither name nor form. If you move away from the 
Divine Mother, you will find Her blue, like the grass-flower. Is Syama male or female? A man once 
saw the image of the Divine Mother wearing a sacred thread. He said to the worshipper: 'What? 
You have put the sacred thread on the Mother's neck!' The worshipper said: 'Brother, I see that 

you have truly known the Mother. But I have not yet been able to find out whether She is male or 
female; that is why I have put the sacred thread on Her image.' 

"That which is Syama is also Brahman. That which has form, again, is without form. That 
which has attributes, again, has no attributes. Brahman is Sakti; Sakti is Brahman. They are not 
two. These are only two aspects, male and female, of the same Reality, Existence-Knowledge-Bliss 

GOVINDA: "What is the meaning of 'yogamaya'?" 

MASTER: "It signifies the yoga, or union, of Purusha and Prakriti. Whatever you perceive in 
the universe is the outcome of this union. Take the image of Siva and Kali. Kali stands on the 
bosom of Siva; Siva lies under Her feet like a corpse; Kali looks at Siva. All this denotes the union of 
Purusha and Prakriti. Purusha is inactive; therefore Siva lies on the ground like a corpse. Prakriti 
performs all Her activities in conjunction with Purusha. Thus She creates, preserves, and destroys. 
That is also the meaning of the conjoined images of Radha and Krishna. On account of that union, 
again, the images are slightly inclined toward each other. 

"To denote this union, Sri Krishna wears a pearl in His nose, Radha a blue stone in hers. 
Radha has a fair complexion, bright as the pearl. Sri Krishna's is blue. For this reason Radha wears 
the blue stone. Further, Krishna's apparel is yellow, and Radha's blue. 

"Who is the best devotee of God? It is he who sees, after the realization of Brahman, that 
God alone has become all living beings, the universe, and the twenty-four cosmic principles. One 
must discriminate at first, saying 'Not this, not this', and reach the roof. After that one realizes that 
the steps are made of the same materials as the roof, namely, brick, lime, and brick-dust. The 
devotee realizes that it is Brahman alone that has become all these-the living beings, the universe, 
and so on. 

"Mere dry reasoning-l spit on it! I have no use for it! (The Master spits on the ground.) 

"Why should I make myself dry through mere reasoning? May I have unalloyed love for the 
Lotus Feet of God as long as the consciousness of T and 'you' remains with me! 

(To Govinda) "Sometimes I say, 'Thou art verily I, and I am verily Thou.' Again I feel, 'Thou 
art Thou.' Then I do not find any trace of T. It is Sakti alone that becomes flesh as God Incarnate. 
According to one school of thought, Rama and Krishna are but two waves in the Ocean of Absolute 
Bliss and Consciousness. 


"Chaitanya, Consciousness, is awakened after Advaita-jnana, the Knowledge of the non-dual 
Brahman. Then one perceives that God alone exists in all beings as Consciousness. After this 
realization comes Ananda, Bliss. Advaita, Chaitanya, and Nityananda. 

(To M.) "Let me ask you not to disbelieve in the forms of God. Have faith in God's forms. 
Meditate on that form of God which appeals to your mind. 

(To Govinda) "The fact is that one does not feel the longing to know or see God as long as 
one wants to enjoy worldly objects. The child forgets everything when he plays with his toys. Try to 
cajole him away from play with a sweetmeat; you will not succeed. He will eat only a bit of it. 
When he relishes neither the sweetmeat nor his play, then he says, 'I want to go to my mother.' He 
doesn't care for the sweetmeat any more. If a man whom he doesn't know and has never seen 
says to the child, 'Come along; I shall take you to your mother', the child follows him. The child will 
go with anyone who will carry him to his mother. 

The soul becomes restless for God when one is through with the enjoyment of worldly 
things. Then a person has only one thought-how to realize God. He listens to whatever anyone 
says to him about God." 

M. (to himself): "Alas! The soul becomes restless for God only when one is through with the 
enjoyment of worldly things." 

August 18, 1883 


Sri Ramakrishna was at Balaram Bose's house in Calcutta. He was explaining the mystery of 
Divine Incarnation to the devotees. 

MASTER: "In order to bring people spiritual knowledge, an Incarnation of God lives in the 
world in the company of devotees, cherishing an attitude of love for God. It is like going up and 
coming down the stairs after having once reached the roof. In order to reach the roof, other 
people should follow the path of devotion, as long as they have not attained Knowledge and 
become free of desire. The roof can be reached only when all desires are done away with. The 
shopkeeper does not go to bed before finishing his accounts. He goes to sleep only when his 
accounts are finished. 

(To M.) "A man will certainly succeed if he will take the plunge. Success is sure for such a 


"Well, what do you think of the worship conducted by Keshab, Shivanath, and the other 
Brahmo leaders?" 

M: "They are satisfied, as you say, with describing the garden, but they seldom speak of 
seeing the Master of the garden. Describing the garden is the beginning and end of their worship." 

MASTER: "You are right. Our only duty is to seek the Master of the garden and speak to 
Him. The only purpose of life is to realize God." 

Sri Ramakrishna then went to Adhar's house. After dusk he sang and danced in Adhar's 
drawing-room. M., Rakhal , and other devotees were present. After the music he sat down, still in 
an ecstatic mood. He said to Rakhal: "This religious fervour is not like rain in the rainy season, 
which comes in torrents and goes in torrents. It is like an image of Siva that has not been set up by 
human hands but is a natural one that has sprung up, as it were, from the bowels of the earth. The 
other day you left Dakshineswar in a temper. I prayed to the Divine Mother to forgive you." 

The Master was still in an abstracted mood and said to Adhar, "My son, meditate on the 
Deity whose name you chanted." With these words he touched Adhar's tongue with his finger and 
wrote something on it. Did the Master thereby impart spirituality to Adhar? 


August 19, 1883 

IT WAS SUNDAY, the first day after the full moon. Sri Ramakrishna was resting after his 
noon meal. The midday offering had been made in the temples, and the temple doors were closed. 
In the early afternoon the Master sat up on the small couch in his room. M. prostrated himself 
before him and sat on the floor. The Master was talking to him on the philosophy of Vedanta. 


MASTER (to M.): "Self-Knowledge is discussed in the Ashtavakra Samhita. The non-dualists 
say, 'Soham', that is, 'I am the Supreme Self.' This is the view of the sannyasis of the Vedantic 
school. But this is not the right attitude for householders, who are conscious of doing everything 
themselves. That being so, how can they declare, 'I am That, the actionless Supreme Self? 
According to the non-dualists the Self is unattached. Good and bad, virtue and vice, and the other 
pairs of opposites, cannot in any way injure the Self, though they undoubtedly afflict those who 
have identified themselves with their bodies. Smoke soils the wall, certainly, but it cannot in any 
way affect Akasa, space. Following the Vedantists of this class, Krishnakishore used to say, 'I am 
Kha', meaning Akasa. Being a great devotee, he could say that with some justification; but it is not 
becoming for others to do so. 

"But to feel that one is a free soul is very good. By constantly repeating, 'I am free, I am 
free', a man verily becomes free. On the other hand, by constantly repeating, 'I am bound, I am 
bound', he certainly becomes bound to worldliness. The fool who says only, 'I am a sinner, I am a 
sinner', verily drowns himself in worldliness. One should rather say: I have chanted the name of 
God. How can I be a sinner? How can I be bound?' 

(To M.) "You see, I am very much depressed today. Hriday has written me that he is very ill. 
Why should I feel dejected about it? Is it because of maya or daya?" 

M. could not find suitable words for a reply, and remained silent. 


MASTER: "Do you know what maya is? It is attachment to relatives-parents, brother and 
sister, wife and children, nephew and niece. Daya means love for all created beings. Now what is 
this, my feeling about Hriday? Is it maya or daya? But Hriday did so much for me: he served me 
whole-heartedly and nursed me when I was ill. But later he tormented me also. The torment 
became so unbearable that once I was about to commit suicide by jumping into the Ganges from 
the top of the embankment. But he did much to serve me. Now my mind will be at rest if he gets 
some money. But whom shall I ask for it? Who likes to speak about such things to our rich 

At two or three o'clock in the afternoon Adhar Sen and Balaram arrived. After saluting Sri 
Ramakrishna, they sat on the floor and asked him if he was well. The Master said, "Yes, I am well 
physically, but a little troubled in mind." He did not refer to Hriday and his troubles. 

The conversation turned to the Goddess Simhavahini. 

MASTER: "Yes, I visited the Goddess. She is worshipped by one of the branches of the 
Mallick family of Calcutta. This branch of the family is now in straitened circumstances, and the 
house they live in is dilapidated. The walls and floor are spotted with moss and pigeon-droppings, 
and the cement and plaster are crumbling. But other branches of the Mallick family are well off. 
This branch has no signs of prosperity. (To M.) Well, what does that signify?" 

M. remained silent. 

MASTER: "The thing is that everyone must reap the result of his past-karma. One must 
admit the influence of tendencies inherited from past births and the result of the prarabdha 
karma. Nevertheless, in that dilapidated house I saw the face of the Goddess radiating a divine 
light. One must believe in the Divine Presence in the image. 

"Once I went to Vishnupur. The raja of that place has several fine temples. In one of them 
there is an image of the Divine Mother, called Mrinmayi. There are several lakes near the temple, 
known as the Lalbandh, Krishnabandh, and so on. In the water of one of the lakes I could smell the 
ointments that women use for their hair. How do you explain that? I didn't know at that time 
that the woman devotees offer ointments to the Goddess Mrinmayi while visiting Her temple. 
Near the lake I went into samadhi, though I had not yet seen the image in the temple. In that state 
I saw the divine form from the waist up, rising from the water." 

In the mean time other devotees had arrived. Someone referred to the political revolution 
and civil war in Kabul. A devotee said that Yakub Khan, the Amir of Afghanistan, had been 
deposed. He told the Master that the Amir was a great devotee of God. 


MASTER: "But you must remember that pleasure and pain are the characteristics of the 
embodied state. In Kavi Kankan's Chandi it is written that Kaluvir was sent to prison and a heavy 
stone placed on his chest. Yet Kalu was born as a result of a boon from the Divine Mother of the 
Universe. Thus pleasure and pain are inevitable when the soul accepts a body. Again, take the case 
of Srimanta, who was a great devotee. Though his mother, Khullana, was very much devoted to 
the Divine Mother, there was no end to his troubles. He was almost beheaded. There is also the 
instance of the wood-cutter who was a great lover of the Divine Mother. She appeared before him 
and showed him much grace and love; but he had to continue his profession of wood-cutting and 
earn his livelihood by that arduous work. Again, while Devaki, Krishna's mother, was in prison, she 
had a vision of God Himself endowed with four hands, holding mace, discus, conch-shell, and lotus. 
But with all that she couldn't get out of prison." 

M: "Why speak only of getting out of prison? This body is the source of all our troubles. 
Devaki should have been freed from the body." 


MASTER: "The truth is that one must reap the result of the prarabdha karma. The body 
remains as long as the results of past actions do not completely wear away. Once a blind man 
bathed in the Ganges and as a result was freed from his sins. But his blindness remained all the 
same. (All laugh.) It was because of his evil deeds in his past birth that he had to undergo that 

M: "Yes,sir. The arrow that has already left the bow is beyond our control." 

MASTER: "However much a bhakta may experience physical joy and sorrow, he always has 
knowledge and the treasure of divine love. This treasure never leaves him. Take the Pandava 
brothers for instance. Though they suffered so many calamities, they did not lose their 
God-Consciousness even once. Where can you find men like them, endowed with so much 
knowledge and devotion?" 

Just then Narendra and Colonel Viswanath Upadhyaya entered the room. Narendra was 
then twenty-two years old and studying in college. They saluted the Master and sat down. The 
Master requested Narendra to sing. The Tanpura hung on the west wall of the room. The devotees 
fixed their eyes on Narendra as he began to tune the drums. 

MASTER (to Narendra): "The drums don't sound as well as before." 

CAPTAIN: "They are now full. Therefore they are quiet, like a vessel filled with water. Or 
they are like a holy man, who remains silent when his heart is full of God-Consciousness." 

MASTER: "But what about sages like Narada?" 

CAPTAIN: "They talked because they were moved by the sufferings of others." 

MASTER: "You are right. After attaining samadhi, Narada, Sukadeva, and others came down 
a few steps, as it were, to the plane of normal consciousness and broke their silence out of 
compassion for the sufferings of others and to help them." 

Narendra began to sing: 

Oh, when will dawn for me that day of blessedness When He who is all Good, all Beauty, 
and all Truth, Will light the inmost shrine of my heart? 

When shall I sink at last, ever beholding Him, Into that Ocean of Delight? . . . 

No sooner had the Master heard a few words of the song than he went into deep samadhi. 
He sat with folded hands, facing the east. His body was erect and his mind completely bereft of 
worldly consciousness. His breath had almost stopped. With unwinking eyes he sat motionless as a 
picture on a canvas. His mind had dived deep into the Ocean of God's Beauty. 

Narendra left the room and went to the east verandah, where Hazra was seated on a 
blanket, with a rosary in his hand. They fell to talking. Other devotees arrived. The Master came 
down from samadhi and looked around. He could not find Narendra. The Tanpura was lying on the 
floor. He noticed that the earnest eyes of the devotees were riveted on him. 

MASTER (referring to Narendra): "He has lighted the fire. Now it doesn't matter whether he 
stays in the room or goes out. 


(To Captain and the other devotees) "Attribute to yourselves the bliss of 
God-Consciousness; then you too will experience ineffable joy. The bliss of God-Consciousness 
always exists in you. It is only hidden by the veiling and projecting power of maya. The less you are 
attached to the world, the more you love God." 

CAPTAIN: "The farther you proceed toward your home in Calcutta, the farther you leave 
Benares behind. Again, the farther you proceed toward Benares, the farther behind you leave your 

MASTER: "As Radha advanced toward Krishna, she could smell more and more of the sweet 
fragrance of His body. The nearer you approach to God, the more you feel His love. As the river 
approaches the ocean it increasingly feels the flow of the tides. 


"The Jnani experiences God-Consciousness within himself; it is like the upper Ganges, 
flowing in only one direction. To him the whole universe is illusory, like a dream; he is always 
established in the Reality of Self. But with the lover of God the case is different. His feeling does 
not flow in only one direction. He feels both the ebb-tide and the flood-tide of divine emotion. 
He laughs and weeps and dances and sings in the ecstasy of God. The lover of God likes to sport 
with Him. In the Ocean of God-Consciousness he sometimes swims, sometimes goes down, and 
sometimes rises to the surface-like pieces of ice in the water. (Laughter.) 


"The Jnani seeks to realize Brahman. But the ideal of the bhakta is the Personal God-a God 
endowed with omnipotence and with the six treasures. Yet Brahman and Sakti are, in fact, not 
different. That which is the Blissful Mother is, again, Existence-Knowledge-Bliss Absolute. They are 
like the gem and its lustre. When one speaks of the lustre of the gem, one thinks of the gem; and 
again, when one speaks of the gem, one refers to its lustre. One cannot conceive of the lustre of 
the gem without thinking of the gem, and one cannot conceive of the gem without thinking of its 

"Existence-Knowledge-Bliss Absolute is one, and one only. But It is associated with different 
limiting adjuncts on account of the different degrees of Its manifestation. That is why one finds 
various forms of God. The devotee sings, '0 my Divine Mother, Thou art all these!' Wherever you 
see actions, like creation, preservation, and dissolution, there is the manifestation of Sakti. 
Water is water whether it is calm or full of waves and bubbles. The Absolute alone is the 
Primordial Energy, which creates, preserves, and destroys. Thus it is the same 'Captain', whether 
he remains inactive or performs his worship or pays a visit to the Governor General. Only we 
designate him by different names at different times." 

CAPTAIN: "Yes, sir, that is so." 

MASTER: "I said those words to Keshab Sen." 

CAPTAIN: "Keshab is not an orthodox Hindu. He adopts manners and customs according to 
his own whim. He is a well-to-do gentleman and not a holy man." 

MASTER (to the other devotees): "Captain forbids me to go to see Keshab." 

CAPTAIN: "But, sir, you act as you will. What can I do?" 

MASTER (sharply): "Why shouldn't I go to see Keshab? You feel at ease when you go to the 
Governor General's house, and for money at that. Keshab thinks of God and chants His name. 
Isn't it you who are always saying that God Himself has become the universe and all its living 
beings? Doesn't God dwell in Keshab also?" 

With these words the Master left the room abruptly and went to the northeast verandah. 
Captain and the other devotees remained, waiting for his return. M. accompanied the Master to 
the verandah, where Narendra was talking with Hazra. Sri Ramakrishna knew that Hazra always 
indulged in dry philosophical discussions. Hazra would say: "The world is unreal, like a dream. 
Worship, food offerings to the Deity, and so forth, are only hallucinations of the mind. The aim of 
spiritual life is to meditate on one's own real Self." Then he would repeat, "I am He." But, with all 
that, he had a soft corner in his heart for money, material things, and people's attention. 

Sri Ramakrishna smiled and said to Hazra and Narendra, "Hello! What are you talking 

NARENDRA (smiling): "Oh, we are discussing a great many things. They are rather too deep 
for others." 

MASTER (with a smile): "But Pure Knowledge and Pure Love are one and the same thing. 
Both lead the aspirants to the same goal. The path of love is much the easier." 

Narendra quoted a song: 

Mother, make me mad with Thy love! What need have I of knowledge or reason? 

Narendra said to M. that he had been reading a book by Hamilton, who wrote: "A learned 
ignorance is the end of philosophy and the beginning of religion." 

MASTER (to M.): "What does that mean?" 

Narendra explained the sentence in Bengali. The Master beamed with joy and said in 
English, "Thank you! Thank you!" Everyone laughed at the charming way he said these words. They 
knew that his English vocabulary consisted of only half a dozen words. 

It was almost dusk when most of the devotees, including Narendra, took leave of the 
Master. Sri Ramakrishna went out and looked at the Ganges for a few minutes from the west 
porch. Two priests were bathing in preparation for the evening worship. Young men of the village 

were strolling in the garden or standing on the concrete embankment, gazing at the murmuring 
river. Others, perhaps more thoughtful, were walking about in the solitude of the Panchavati. 

It became dark. The maidservant lighted the lamp in Sri Ramakrishna's room and burnt 
incense. The evening worship began in the twelve temples of Siva and in the shrines of Krishna and 

As it was the first day after the full moon, the moonlight soon flooded the tops of the trees 
and temples, and touched with silver the numberless waves of the sacred river. 

The Master returned to his room. After bowing to the Divine Mother, he clapped his hands 
and chanted the sweet names of God. A number of holy pictures hung on the walls of the room. 
Among others, there were pictures of Dhruva, Prahlada, Kali, Radha-Krishna, and the coronation of 
Rama. The Master bowed low before the pictures and repeated the holy names. Then he repeated 
the holy words, "Brahma-Atma-Bhagavan; Bhagavata-Bhakta-Bhagavan; Brahma-Sakti, 
Sakti-Brahma; Veda, Purana, Tantra, Gita, Gayatri." Then he said: "I have taken refuge at Thy feet, 
Divine Mother; not I, but Thou. I am the machine and Thou art the Operator", and so on. 


While the Master was meditating in this fashion on the Divine Mother, a few devotees, 
coming in from the garden, gathered in his room. Sri Ramakrishna sat down on the small couch. 
He said to the devotees: "Narendra, Bhavanath, Rakhal , and devotees like them belong to the 
group of the nityasiddhas; they are eternally free. Religious practice on their part is superfluous. 
Look at Narendra. He doesn't care about anyone. One day he was going with me in Captain's 
carriage. Captain wanted him to take a good seat, but Narendra didn't even look at him. He is 
independent even of me. He doesn't tell me all he knows, lest I should praise his scholarship 
before others. He is free from ignorance and delusion. He has no bonds. He is a great soul. He has 
many good qualities. He is expert in music, both as a singer and player, and is also a versatile 
scholar. Again, he keeps his passions under control and says that he will never marry. There is a 
close friendship between Narendra and Bhavanath; they are just like man and woman. Narendra 
doesn't come here very often. That is good, for I am overwhelmed by his presence." 

Monday, August 20, 1883 

Sri Ramakrishna was sitting on his bed, inside the mosquito net, meditating. It was about 
eight o'clock in the evening. M. was sitting on the floor with his friend Hari Babu. Hari, a young 
man of twenty-eight, had lost his wife about eleven years before and had not married a second 
time. He was much, devoted to his parents, brothers, and sisters. 

Hazra was living at Dakshineswar. Rakhal lived with the Master, though now and then he 
stayed at Adhar's house. Narendra, Bhavanath, Adhar, M., Ram, Manomohan, and other devotees 
visited the Master almost every week. 

Hriday, Sri Ramakrishna's nephew, was ill in his home in the country. The Master was 
worried about him. One of the devotees had sent him a little money, but the Master did not know 

When Sri Ramakrishna came out of the mosquito net and sat on the small couch, the 
devotees saluted him. 

MASTER (to M.): "I was meditating inside the net. It occurred to me that meditation, after 
all, was nothing but the imagining of a form, and so I did not enjoy it. One gets satisfaction if God 
reveals Himself in a flash. Again, I said to myself, 'Who is it that meditates, and on whom does he 
meditate?' " 

M: "Yes, sir. You said that God Himself has become everything-the universe and all living 
beings. Even he who meditates is God." 

MASTER: "What is more, one cannot meditate unless God wills it. One can meditate when 
God makes it possible for one to do so. What do you say?" 

M: "True, sir. You feel like that because there is no T in you. When there is no ego, one 
feels like that." 

MASTER: "But it is good .to have a trace of ego, which makes it possible for a man to feel 
that he is the servant of God. As long as a man thinks that it is he who is doing his duties, it is very 
good for him to feel that God is the Master and he God's servant. When one is conscious of doing 
work, one should establish with God the relationship of servant and Master." 

M. was always reflecting on the nature of the Supreme Brahman. 


MASTER (to M.): "Like the Akasa, Brahman is without any modification. It has become 
manifold because of Sakti. Again, Brahman is like fire, which itself has no colour. The fire appears 
white if you throw a white substance into it, red if you throw a red, black if you throw a black. 
The three gunas-sattva, rajas, and tamas-belong to Sakti alone. Brahman Itself is beyond the three 
gunas. What Brahman is cannot be described. It is beyond words. That which remains after 
everything is eliminated by the Vedantic process of 'Not this, not this', and which is of the nature 
of Bliss, is Brahman. 

"Suppose the husband of a young girl has come to his father-in-law's house and is seated in 
the drawing-room with other young men of his age. The girl and her friends are looking at them 
through the window. Her friends do not know her husband and ask her, pointing to one young 
man, 'Is that your husband?' 'No', she answers, smiling. They point to another young man and ask 
if he is her husband. Again she answers no. They repeat the question, referring to a third, and she 
gives the same answer. At last they point to her husband and ask, 'Is he the one?' She says neither 
yes nor no, but only smiles and keeps quiet. Her friends realize that he is her husband. 

"One becomes silent on realizing the true nature of Brahman. 

(To M.) "Well, why do I talk so much?" 

M: "You talk in order to awaken the spiritual consciousness of the devotees. You once said 
that when an uncooked luchi is dropped into boiling ghee it makes a sizzling noise." 

The Master began to talk to M. about Hazra. 

MASTER: "Do you know the nature of a good man? He never troubles others. He doesn't 
harass people. The nature of some people is such that when they go to a feast they want special 
seats. A man who has true devotion to God never makes a false step, never gives others trouble 
for nothing. 

"It is not good to live in the company of bad people. A man should stay away from them and 
thus protect himself. (To M.) Isn't that so?" 

M: "Yes, sir. The mind sinks far down in the company of the wicked. But it is quite 
different with a hero, as you say." 

M: "When a fire is feeble it goes out when even a small stick is thrown into it; but a blazing 
fire is not affected even if a plantain-tree is thrown into it. The tree itself is burnt to ashes." 

The Master asked M. about his friend Hari Babu. 

M: "He has come here to pay you his respects. He lost his wife long ago." 
MASTER (to Hari): "What kind of work do you do?" 

M: "Nothing in particular. But at home he takes good care of his parents and his brothers 
and sisters." 

MASTER: "How is that?" 

MASTER (with a smile): "How is that? You are like 'Elder, the pumpkin-cutter'. You are 
neither a man of the world nor a devotee of God. That is not good. You must have seen the sort of 
elderly man who lives in a family and is always ready, day or night, to entertain the children. He 
sits in the parlour and smokes the hubble-bubble. With nothing in particular to do, he leads a lazy 
life. Now and again he goes to the inner court and cuts a pumpkin; for, since women do not cut 
pumpkins, they send the children to ask him to come and do it. That is the extent of his 
usefulness-hence his nickname, 'Elder, the pumpkin-cutter'. 

"You must do 'this' as well as 'that'. Do your duties in the world, and also fix your mind on 
the Lotus Feet of the Lord. Read books of devotion like the Bhagavata or the life of Chaitanya when 
you are alone and have nothing else to do." 

It was about ten o'clock. Sri Ramakrishna finished a light supper of farina pudding and one 
or two luchis. After saluting him, M. and his friend took their leave. 

Friday, September 7, 1883 

Sri Ramakrishna and M. were talking in the Master's room at half past seven in the evening. 
No one else was present. 

MASTER: "The other day I went to Calcutta. As I drove along the streets in the carriage, I 
observed that everyone's attention was fixed on low things. Everyone was brooding over his 

stomach and running after nothing but food. Everyone's mind was turned to 'woman and gold'. I 
saw only one or two with their attention fixed on higher things, with their minds turned to God." 

"The present age has aggravated this stomach-worry. Trying to imitate the English, people 
have turned their attention to more luxuries; therefore their wants have also increased." 

"They believe in a formless God." 

MASTER: "What do the English think about God?" 

MASTER: "That is also one of our beliefs." 


For a time Master and disciple remained silent. Then Sri Ramakrishna began to describe his 
experiences of Brahman. 

MASTER: "One day I had the vision of Consciousness, non-dual and indivisible. At first it had 
been revealed to me that there were innumerable men, animals, and other creatures. Among 
them there were aristocrats, the English, the Mussalmans, myself, scavengers, dogs, and also a 
bearded Mussalman with an earthenware tray of rice in his hand. He put a few grains of rice into 
everybody's mouth. I too tasted a little. 

"Another day I saw rice, vegetables, and other food-stuff, and filth and dirt as well, lying 
around. Suddenly the soul came out of my body and, like a flame, touched everything. It was like a 
protruding tongue of fire and tasted everything once, even the excreta. It was revealed to me that 
all these are one Substance, the non-dual and indivisible Consciousness. 

"Another day it was revealed to me that I had devotees-my intimate companions, my very 
own. Thereafter I would climb to the roof of the kuthi as soon as the bells and the conch-shells of 
the evening service sounded in the temples, and cry out with a longing heart: 'Oh, where are you 
all? Come here! I am dying to see you!' 

(To M.) "Well, what do you think of these visions?" 

M: "God sports through you. This I have realized, that you are the instrument and God is the 
Master. God has created other beings as if with a machine, but yourself with His own hands." 

MASTER: "Well, Hazra says that after the vision of God one acquires the six divine powers." 
M: "Those who seek pure love don't want powers." 

MASTER: "Perhaps Hazra was a poor man in his previous life, and that is why he wants so 
much to see the manifestation of power. He wants to know what I talk about with the cook. He 
says to me: 'You don't have to talk to the cook. I shall talk to the manager of the temple myself and 
see that you get everything you want.' (M. laughs aloud.) He talks to me that way and I say 

M: "Many a time you have said that a devotee, who loves God for the sake of love does not 
care to see God's powers. A true devotee wants to see God as Gopala. In the beginning God 
becomes the magnet, and the devotee the needle. But in the end the devotee himself becomes 
the magnet, and God the needle; that is to say, God becomes small to His devotee." 

MASTER: "Yes, it is just like the sun at dawn. You can easily look at that sun. It doesn't 
dazzle the eyes; rather it satisfies them. God becomes tender for the sake of His devotees. He 
appears before them, setting aside His powers." 

Both remained silent for some time. 

M: "Why should your visions not be real? If they are unreal, then the world is still more 
unreal; for there is only one mind that is the instrument of perception. Your pure mind sees those 
visions, and our ordinary minds see worldly objects." 

MASTER: "I see that you have grasped the idea of unreality. Well, tell me what you think of 

M: "Oh, I don't know." (The Master laughs.) MASTER: "Well, do you find me to be like 
anybody else?" 

M: "No, sir." MASTER: "Like any other paramahamsa?" 

M: "No, sir. You can't be compared to anybody else." MASTER (smiling): "Have you heard of 
a tree called the 'achina'?" 

M: "No, sir." MASTER: "There is a tree called by that name. But nobody knows what it is." 

M: "Likewise, it is not possible to recognize you. The more a man understands you, the 
more uplifted he will be." 

M. was silent. He said to himself: "The Master referred to 'the sun at dawn' and 'the tree 
unrecognizable by man'. Did he mean an Incarnation of God? Is this the play of God through man? 
Is the Master himself an Incarnation? Was this why he cried to the devotees from the roof of the 
kuthi: 'Where are you? Come to me!'?" 

Sri Ramakrishna was sitting on the steps of the southeast verandah of the Kali temple. 
Rakhal, M., and Hazra were with him. He talked light-heartedly about his boyhood days. 

When it was dusk he returned to his room and sat down on the small couch. Soon he went 
into samadhi and in that state began to talk to the Divine Mother. He said: "Mother, what is all this 
row about? Shall I go there? I shall go if You take me." The Master was to go to a devotee's house. 
Was it for this that he was asking the Divine Mother's permission? 

Again he spoke to Her, perhaps praying about an intimate disciple: 

"Mother, please make him stainless. Well, Mother, why have You given him only a 
particle?" Remaining silent a moment, he said: "Oh, I see. That will be enough for Your work." 


In the same state he said, addressing the devotees: "That which is Brahman is verily Sakti. I 
address That, again, as the Mother. I call It Brahman when It is inactive, and Sakti when It creates, 
preserves, and destroys. It is like water, sometimes still and sometimes covered with waves. The 
Incarnation of God is a part of the lila of Sakti. The purpose of the Divine Incarnation is to teach 
man ecstatic love for God. The Incarnation is like the udder of the cow, the only place milk is to be 
got. God incarnates Himself as man. There is a great accumulation of divinity in an Incarnation, like 
the accumulation offish in a deep hollow in a lake." 

Some of the devotees wondered, "Is Sri Ramakrishna an Incarnation of God, like Krishna, 
Chaitanya, and Christ?" 

Sunday, September 9, 1883 

Sri Ramakrishna had finished his midday meal and was sitting on the small couch. Rakhal , 
M., and Ratan were sitting on the floor. Ratan was the steward of Jadu Mallick's garden house and 
was devoted to the Master. Now and then Ram Chatterji and Hazra passed in or out of the room. 
It was about two o'clock. 

Ratan told the Master that a yatra performance by Nilkantha had been arranged in Jadu 
Mallick's house in Calcutta. 

RATAN (to the Master): "You must go. The date has been set." 

MASTER: "That's good, I want to go. Nilkantha sings with great devotion." 

A DEVOTEE: "That is true, sir." 

MASTER: "Tears flow from his eyes as he sings. (To Ratan) I am thinking of spending the 
night in Calcutta when I go to see the yatra." 

RATAN: "That will be fine." 

Ram Chatterji and the other devotees asked Ratan about a theft in Jadu Mallick's house. 

RATAN: "Yes, the golden sandals of the Deity were stolen from the shrine room in Jadu 
Babu's house. It has created an uproar. They are going to try to discover the thief by means of a 
'charmed plate'. Everybody will sit in one room, and the plate will move in the direction of the man 
who stole the sandals." 

MASTER (with a smile): "How does the plate move? By itself?" 

RATAN: "No. A man presses it to the ground." 

A DEVOTEE: "It is a kind of sleight of hand. It is a clever trick." 

MASTER: "The real cleverness is the cleverness by which one realizes God. That trick is the 
best of all tricks." 

As the conversation went on, several Bengali gentlemen entered the room and, after 
saluting the Master, sat down. One of them was already known to Sri Ramakrishna. These 
gentlemen followed the cult of Tantra. The Master knew that one of them indulged in immoral 
acts in the name of religion. The Tantra rituals, under certain conditions, allow the mixing of men 
and women devotees. But Sri Ramakrishna regarded all women, even prostitutes, as 
manifestations of the Divine Mother. He addressed them all as "Mother". 

MASTER (with a smile): "Where is Achalananda? My ideal is different from that of 
Achalananda and his disciples. As for myself, I look on all women as my mother." 

The visiting gentlemen sat silent. 


MASTER: "Every woman is a mother to me. Achalananda used to stay here now and then. 
He would drink a great deal of consecrated wine. Hearing about my attitude toward women, he 
stubbornly justified his own views. He insisted again and again: 'Why should you not recognize the 
attitude of a "hero" toward women? Won't you admit the injunctions of Siva? Siva Himself is the 
author of the Tantra, which prescribes various disciplines, including the "heroic".' I said to him: 
'But, my dear sir, I don't know. I don't like these ideas. To me every woman is a mother.' 

"Achalananda did not support his own children. He said to me, 'God will support them.' I 
said nothing. But this is the way I felt about it: 'Who will support your children? I hope your 
renunciation of wife and children is not a way of earning money. People will think you are a holy 
man because you have renounced everything: so they will give you money. In that way you will 
earn plenty of money.' 

"Spiritual practice with a view to winning a lawsuit and earning money, or to helping others 
win in court and acquire property, shows a very mean understanding. 


"Money enables a man to get food and drink, build a house, worship the Deity, serve 
devotees and holy men, and help the poor when he happens to meet them. These are the good 
uses of money. Money is not meant for luxuries or creature comforts or for buying a position in 

"People practise various Tantrik disciplines to acquire supernatural powers. How mean such 
people are! Krishna said to Arjuna, 'Friend, by acquiring one of the eight siddhis you may add a 
little to your power, but you will not be able to realize Me.' One cannot get rid of maya as long as 
one exercises supernatural powers. And maya begets egotism. 

"Body and wealth are impermanent. Why go to so much trouble for their sakes? Just think 
of the plight of the hathayogis. Their attention is fixed on one ideal only-longevity. They do not aim 
at the realization of God at all. They practise such exercises as washing out the intestines, drinking 
milk through a tube, and the like, with that one aim in view. 

"There was once a goldsmith whose tongue suddenly turned up and stuck to his palate. He 
looked like a man in samadhi. He became completely inert and remained so a long time. People 
came to worship him. After several years, his tongue suddenly returned to its natural position, and 
he became conscious of things as before. So he went back to his work as a goldsmith. (All laugh.) 

"These are physical things and have nothing to do with God. There was a man who knew 
eighty-two postures and talked big about yoga-samadhi. But inwardly he was drawn to 'woman 
and gold'. Once he found a bank-note worth several thousand rupees. He could not resist the 
temptation, and swallowed it, thinking he would get it out somehow later on. The note was got 
out of him all right, but he was sent to jail for three years. In my guilelessness I used to think that 
the man had made great spiritual progress. Really, I say it upon my word! 


"Mahendra Pal of Sinthi once gave Ramlal five rupees. Ramlal told me about it after he had 
gone. I asked him what the gift was for, and Ramlal said that it was meant for me. I thought it 
might enable me to payoff some of my debt for milk. That night I went to bed and, if you will 
believe me, I suddenly woke up with a pain. I felt as if a cat were scratching inside my chest. I at 
once went to Ramlal and asked him: 'For whom did Mahendra give this money? Was it for your 
aunt?7 'No,' said Ramlal, 'it is meant for you.' I said to him, 'Go and return the money at once, or I 
shall have no peace of mind.' Ramlal returned the money early in the morning and I felt relieved. 

"Once a rich man came here and said to me: 'Sir, you must do something so that I may win 
my lawsuit. I have heard of your reputation and so I have come here.' 'My dear sir,' I said to him, 
'you have made a mistake. I am not the person you are looking for; Achalananda is your man.' 

"A true devotee of God does not care for such things as wealth or health. He thinks: 'Why 
should I practise spiritual austerities for creature comforts, money, or name and fame? These are 
all impermanent. They last only a day or two.' " 

The visiting gentlemen took leave of the Master after saluting him. When they had 
departed, Sri Ramakrishna smiled and said to M., "You can never make a thief listen to religion. 
(All laugh.) 

"Well, what do you think of Narendra?" 

M: "He is splendid." 

MASTER: "Yes. His intelligence is as great as his learning. Besides, he is gifted in music, both 
as a singer and player. Then too, he has control over his passions. He says he will never marry." 

M: "You once said that one who constantly talks of his sin really becomes a sinner; he 
cannot extricate himself from sin. But if a man has firm faith that he is the son of God, then he 
makes rapid strides in spiritual life." 

MASTER: "Yes, faith. What tremendous faith Krishnakishore had! He used to say: 'I have 
spoken the name of God once. That is enough. How can I remain a sinner? I have become pure and 
stainless.' One day Haladhari said: 'Even Ajamila had to perform austerities to gratify God. Can one 

receive the grace of God without austerities? What will one gain by speaking the name of 
Narayana only once?' At these remarks Krishnakishore's anger knew no bounds. The next time he 
came to this garden to pick flowers he wouldn't even look at Haladhari. 

"Haladhari's father was a great devotee. At bathing-time he would stand waist-deep in the 
water and meditate on God, uttering the sacred mantra; then the tears would flow from his eyes. 


"One day a holy man came to the bathing-place on the Ganges at Ariadaha. We talked 
about seeing him. Haladhari said, 'What shall we gain by seeing the body of a man, a mere cage 
made of the five elements?' Krishnakishore heard about it and said: 'What? Did Haladhari ask what 
would be gained by visiting a holy man? By repeating the name of Krishna or Rama a man 
transforms his physical body into a spiritual body. To such a man everything is the embodiment of 
Spirit. To him Krishna is the embodiment of Spirit, and His sacred Abode is the embodiment of 
Spirit.' He also said, 'A man who utters the name of Krishna or Rama even once reaps the result of 
a hundred sandhyas.' 

"One of his sons chanted the name of Rama on his death-bed. Krishnakishore said, 'He has 
nothing to worry about; he has chanted the name of Rama.' But now and then he wept. After all, it 
was the death of his own son. 

Nothing whatsoever is achieved by the performance of worship, japa, and devotions, 
without faith. Isn't that so?" 

M: "Yes, sir. That is true." 

MASTER: "I see people coming to the Ganges to bathe. They talk their heads off about 
everything under the sun. The widowed aunt says: 'Without me they cannot perform the Durga 
Puja. I have to look after even the smallest detail. Again, I have to supervise everything when there 
is a marriage festival in the family, even the bed of the bride and groom.'" 

M: "Why should we blame them? How else will they pass the time?" 

MASTER (with a smile): "Some people have their shrine rooms in their attics. The women 
arrange the offerings and flowers and make the sandal-paste. But, while doing so, they never say a 
word about God. The burden of the conversation is: 'What shall we cook today? I couldn't get good 
vegetables in the market. That curry was delicious yesterday. That boy is my cousin. Hello there! 
Have you that job still? Don't ask me how I am. My Hari is no more.' Just fancy! They talk of such 
things in the shrine room at the time of worship!" 

M: "Yes, sir, it is so in the majority of cases. As you say, can one who has passionate 
yearning for God continue formal worship and devotions for long?" 

Sri Ramakrishna and M. were now conversing alone. 

M: "Sir, if it is God Himself who has become everything, then why do people have so many 
different feelings?" 

MASTER: "Undoubtedly God exists in all beings as the All-pervading Spirit, but the 
manifestations of His Power are different in different beings. In some places there is a 
manifestation of the power of Knowledge; in others, of the power of ignorance. In some places 
there is a greater manifestation of power than in others. Don't you see that among human beings 
there are cheats and gamblers, to say nothing of men who are like tigers. I think of them as the 
'cheat God 1 , the 'tiger God'." 

M. (with a smile): "We should salute them from a distance. If we go near the 'tiger God' and 
embrace him, he may devour us." 

MASTER: "He and His Power, Brahman and Its Power-nothing else exists but this. In a hymn 
to Rama, Narada said: '0 Rama, You are Siva, and Sita is Bhagavati; You are Brahma, and Sita is 
Brahmani; You are Indra, and Sita is Indrani; You are Narayana, and Sita is Lakshmi. Rama, You 
are the symbol of all that is masculine, and Sita of all that is feminine.' " 

M: "Sir, what is the Spirit-form of God like?" 

Sri Ramakrishna reflected a moment and said softly: "Shall I tell you what it is like? It is like 
water. . . . One understands all this through spiritual discipline. 

"Believe in the form of God. It is only after attaining Brahmajnana that one sees 
non-duality, the oneness of Brahman and Its Sakti. Brahman and Sakti are identical, like fire and its 
power to burn. When a man thinks of fire, he must also think of its power to burn. Again, when he 
thinks of the power to burn, he must also think of fire. Further, Brahman and Sakti are like milk 
and its whiteness, water and its wetness. 


"But there is a stage beyond even Brahmajnana. After jnana comes vijnana. He who is 
aware of knowledge is also aware of ignorance. The sage Vasishtha was stricken with grief at the 
death of his hundred sons. Asked by Lakshmana why a man of knowledge should grieve for such a 
reason, Rama said, 'Brother, go beyond both knowledge and ignorance.' He who has knowledge 
has ignorance also. If a thorn has entered your foot, get another thorn and with its help take out 
the first; then throwaway the second also." 

M: "Should one throwaway both knowledge and ignorance?" 

MASTER: "Yes. That is why one should acquire vijnana. You see, he who is aware of light is 
also aware of darkness. He who is aware of happiness is also aware of suffering. He who is aware 
of virtue is also aware of vice. He who is aware of good is also aware of evil. He who is aware of 
holiness is also aware of unholiness. He who is aware of T is also aware of 'you'. 

"What is vijnana? It is knowing God in a special way. The awareness and conviction that fire 
exists in wood is jnana, knowledge. But to cook rice on that fire, eat the rice, and get nourishment 
from it is vijnana. To know by one's inner experience that God exists is jnana. But to talk to Him, to 
enjoy Him as Child, as Friend, as Master, as Beloved, is vijnana. The realization that God alone has 
become the universe and all living beings is vijnana. 

"According to one school of thought, God cannot be seen. Who sees whom? Is God outside 
you, that you can see Him? One sees only oneself. Having once entered the 'black waters' of the 
ocean, the ship does not come back and so cannot describe what it experiences." 

M: "It is true, sir. As you say, having climbed to the top of the monument, one becomes 
unaware of what is below: horses and carriages, men and women, houses, shops and offices, and 
so on." 

MASTER: "I don't go to the Kali temple nowadays. Is that an offence? At one time Narendra 
used to say, 'What? He still goes to the Kali temple!' " 

M: "Every day you are in a new state of mind. How can you ever offend God?" 

MASTER: "Someone said to Sen, about Hriday: 'He is very ill. Please bring two pieces of cloth 
and a couple of shirts for him. We will send them to his village.' Sen offered only two rupees. How 
do you explain that? He has so much money, and yet he is so miserly! What do you say to that?" 

M: "Those who seek God cannot behave that way-l mean those whose goal is the 
attainment of Knowledge." 

MASTER: "God alone is the Reality and all else is unreal." 

Saturday, September 22, 1883 

Sri Ramakrishna was seated in the drawing-room of Adhar's house in Calcutta, with Rakhal , 
Adhar, M., Ishan, and other devotees. Many gentlemen of the neighbourhood were also present. 
It was afternoon. 

The Master was very fond of Ishan. He had been a superintendent in the Accountant 
General's office, and later on his children also occupied high government positions. One of them 
was a class-mate of Narendra. Ishan's purse was always open for the poor and needy. When he 
retired from service, he devoted his time to spiritual practices and charity. He often visited Sri 
Ramakrishna at Dakshineswar. 

MASTER (to Ishan): "Please tell us the story of the boy who posted the letter." 

ISHAN (with a smile): "A boy once heard that God is our Creator. So he wrote a letter to 
God, setting forth his prayers, and posted it. The address he put on the envelope was 'Heaven'." 

MASTER (with a smile): "Did you hear that story? One succeeds in spiritual life when one 
develops a faith like that boy's. (To Ishan) Tell us about the renunciation of activities." 

ISHAN: "After the attainment of God, religious duties such as the sandyha drop away. One 
day some people were sitting on the bank of the Ganges performing the sandyha. But one of them 
abstained from it. On being asked the reason, he said: 'I am observing asoucha. I cannot perform 
the sandyha ceremony. In my case the defilement is due to both a birth and a death. My mother, 
Ignorance, is dead, and my son, Self-Knowledge, has been born.'" 

MASTER: "Tell us, also, how caste distinctions drop away when one attains Self-Knowledge." 

ISHAN: "Sankaracharya was once climbing the steps after finishing his bath in the Ganges, 
when he saw just in front of him an untouchable who had a pack of dogs with him. 'You have 
touched me!' said Sankara. 'Revered sir,' said the pariah, 'I have not touched you, nor have you 
touched me. The Self is the Inner Ruler of all beings and cannot be contaminated. Is there any 
difference between the sun's reflection in wine and its reflection in the Ganges?' " 

MASTER (with a smile): "And about harmony: how one can realize God through all paths." 

Ishan (smiling): "Both Hari and Hara are derived from the same root. The difference is only 
in the pratyaya. In reality, He who is Hari is also Hara. If a man has faith in God, then it doesn't 
matter whom he worships." 

MASTER: "And please tell us also how the heart of the sadhu is the greatest of all." 

ISHAN: "This earth is the largest thing we see anywhere around us. But larger than the earth 
is the ocean, and larger than the ocean is the sky. But Vishnu, the Godhead, has covered earth, sky, 
and the nether world with one of His feet. And that foot of Vishnu is enshrined in the sadhu's 
heart. Therefore the heart of a holy man is the greatest of all." 

The devotees were delighted with Ishan's words. 

Ishan intended to retire to a solitary place and practise a special discipline of the Gayatri, 
through which Brahman is invoked. But the Master said that the Knowledge of Brahman was not 
possible without the complete destruction of worldliness. Further, he said that it was impossible 
for a man totally to withdraw his mind from the objects of the senses in the Kaliyuga, when his life 
was dependent on food. That is why the Master discouraged people from attempting the Vedic 
worship of Brahman and asked them to worship Sakti, the Divine Mother, who is identical with 

MASTER (to Ishan): "Why do you waste your time simply repeating 'Neti, neti'? Nothing 
whatsoever can be specified about Brahman, except that It exists. 

"Whatever we see or think about is the manifestation of the glory of the Primordial Energy, 
the Primal Consciousness. Creation, preservation, and destruction, living beings and the universe, 
and further, meditation and the meditator, bhakti and prema-all these are manifestations of the 
glory of that Power. 

"But Brahman is identical with Its Power. On returning from Ceylon, Hanuman praised 
Rama, saying: '0 Rama, You are the Supreme Brahman, and Sita is Your Sakti. You and She are 
identical' Brahman and Sakti are like the snake and. its wriggling motion. Thinking of the snake, 
one must think of its wriggling motion, and thinking of its wriggling motion, one must think of the 
snake. Or they are like milk and its whiteness. Thinking of milk, one has to think of its colour, that 
is, whiteness, and thinking of the whiteness of milk, one has to think of milk itself. Or they are like 
water and its wetness. Thinking of water, one has to think of its wetness, and thinking of the 
wetness of water, one has to think of water. 

"This Primal Power, Mahamaya, has covered Brahman. As soon as the covering is 
withdrawn, one realizes: 'I am what I was before', 'I am Thou; Thou art I'. 

"As long as that covering remains, the Vedantic formula 'I am He', that is, man is the 
Supreme Brahman, does not rightly apply. The wave is part of the water, but the water is not part 
of the wave. As long as that covering remains, one should call on God as Mother. Addressing God, 
the devotee should say, 'Thou art the Mother and I am Thy child; Thou art the Master and I am Thy 
servant.' It is good to have the attitude of the servant toward the master. From this relationship of 
master and servant spring up other attitudes: the attitude of serene love for God, the attitude of 
friend toward friend, and so forth. When the master loves his servant, he may say to him, 'Come, 
sit by my side; there is no difference between you and me.' But if the servant comes forward of his 
own will to sit by the master, will not the master be angry? 

"God's play on earth as an Incarnation is the manifestation of the glory of the ChitSakti, the 
Divine Power. That which is Brahman is also Rama, Krishna, and Siva." 

ISHAN: "Yes, sir. Both Hari and Hara are derived from the same root. The difference lies only 
in the pratyaya." 

MASTER: "Yes, there is only One without a second. The Vedas speak of It as 'Om 
Satchidananda Brahma', the Puranas as 'Om Satchidananda Krishna,' and the Tantra as 'Om 
Satchidananda Siva'. 

"The ChitSakti, as Mahamaya, has deluded all with ignorance. It is said in the Adhyatma 
Ramayana that when the rishis saw Rama, they prayed to Him in these words only: '0 Rama, 
please do not delude us with Your world-bewitching maya.' " 

ISHAN: "What is this maya?" 

MASTER: "Whatever you see, think, or hear is maya. In a word, 'woman and gold' is the 
covering of maya. 

"There is no harm in chewing betel-leaf, eating fish, smoking, or rubbing the body with oil. 
What will one achieve by renouncing only these things? The one thing needful is the renunciation 
of 'woman and gold'. That renunciation is the real and supreme renunciation. Householders should 
go into solitude now and then, to practise spiritual discipline in order to cultivate devotion to God; 
they should renounce mentally. But the sannyasi should renounce both mentally and physically. 

"I once said to Keshab, 'How can a typhoid patient be cured if he remains in a room where a 
pitcher of water and a jar of pickles are kept?' Now and then one should live in solitude ". 

A DEVOTEE: "Sir, what do you think of the Navavidhan? It seems to me like a hotchpotch of 

MASTER: "Some say it is a modern thing. That sets me wondering: 'Then is the God of the 
Brahmo Samaj a new God?' The Brahmos speak of their cult as the Navavidhan, as a New 
Dispensation. Well, it may be so. Who knows? There are six systems of philosophy; so perhaps it is 
like one of these. 

"But do you know where those who speak of the formless God make their mistake? It is 
where they say that God is formless only, and that those who differ with them are wrong. 

"But I know that God is both with and without form. And He may have many more aspects. 
It is possible for Him to be everything. 

(To Ishan) "The ChitSakti, Mahamaya, has become the twenty-four cosmic principles. One 
day as I was meditating, my mind wandered away to Rashke's house. He is a scavenger. I said to 
my mind, 'Stay there, you rogue!' The Divine Mother revealed to me that the men and women in 
this house were mere masks; inside them was the same Divine Power, Kundalini, that rises up 
through the six spiritual centres of the body. 

"Is the Primal Energy man or woman? Once at Kamarpukur I saw the worship of Kali in the 
house of the Lahas. They put a sacred thread on the image of the Divine Mother. One man asked, 
'Why have they put the sacred thread on the Mother's person?' The master of the house said: 
'Brother, I see that you have rightly understood the Mother. But I do not yet know whether the 
Divine Mother is male or female.' 

"It is said that Mahamaya swallowed Siva. When the six centres in Her were awakened, Siva 
came out through Her thigh. Then Siva created the Tantra philosophy. 

"Take refuge in the ChitSakti, the Mahamaya." 

ISHAN: "Please bestow your grace on me." 

MASTER: "Say to God with a guileless heart, '0 God, reveal Thyself to me.' And weep. Pray 
to God, '0 God, keep my mind away from "woman, and gold".' And dive deep. Can a man get 
pearls by floating or swimming on the surface? He must dive deep. 


"One must get instruction from a guru. Once a man was looking for a stone image of Siva. 
Someone said to him: 'Go to a certain river. There you will find a tree. Near it is a whirlpool. Dive 
into the water there, and you will find the image of Siva.' So I say that one must get instruction 
from a teacher." 

ISHAN: "That is true, sir." 

MASTER: "It is Satchidananda that comes to us in the form of the guru. If a man is initiated 
by a human guru, he will not achieve anything if he regards his guru as a mere man. The guru 
should be regarded as the direct manifestation of God. Only then can the disciple have faith in 
the mantra given by the guru. Once a man has faith he, achieves all. The sudra Ekalavya learnt 
archery in the forest before a clay image of Drona; He worshipped the image as the living Drona; 
that by itself enabled him to attain mastery in archery. 

"Don't mix intimately with brahmin pundits. Their only concern is to earn money. I have 
seen brahmin priests reciting the Chandi while performing the swastyayana. It is hard to tell 
whether they are reading the sacred book or something else. They turn half the pages without 
reading them. (All laugh.) 

"A nail-knife suffices to kill oneself. One needs sword and shield to kill others. That is the 
purpose of the sastras. 

"One doesn't really need to study the different scriptures. If one has no discrimination, one 
doesn't achieve anything through mere scholarship, even though one studies all the six systems of 
philosophy. Call on God, crying to Him secretly in solitude. He will give all that you need." 

Sri Ramakrishna had heard that Ishan was building a house on the bank of the Ganges for 
the practice of spiritual discipline. He asked Ishan eagerly: "Has the house been built? Let me tell 
you that the less people know of your spiritual life, the better it will be for you. Devotees endowed 
with sattva meditate in a secluded corner or in a forest, or withdraw into the mind. Sometimes 
they meditate inside the mosquito net." 

Now and then Ishan invited Hazra to his house. Hazra had a craze for outward purity. Sri 
Ramakrishna often discouraged him in this. 

MASTER (to Ishan): "Let me tell you another thing. Don't be over-fastidious about outward 
purity. Once a sadhu felt very thirsty. A water-carrier was carrying water in his skin water-bag, and 
offered the water to the holy man. The sadhu asked if the skin was clean. The carrier said: 
'Revered sir; my skin bag is perfectly clean. But inside your skin are all sorts of filthy things. That 
is why I can ask you to drink water from my skin. It won't injure you.' By 'your skin', the carrier 
meant the body, the belly, and so forth. 

"Have faith in the name of God. Then you won't need even to go to holy places." Sri 
Ramakrishna sang, intoxicated with divine fervour: 

Why should I go to Ganga or Gaya, to Kasi, Kanchi, or Prabhas, 

So long as I can breathe my last with Kali's name upon my lips? 

Ishan remained silent. 

MASTER (to Ishan): "Tell me if you have any more doubts." 
ISHAN: "You said everything when you spoke of faith." 

MASTER: "God can be realized by true faith alone. And the realization is hastened if you 
believe everything about God. The cow that picks and chooses its food gives milk only in dribblets, 
but if she eats all kinds of plants, then her milk flows in torrents. 

"Once I heard a story. A man heard the command of God that he should see his Ideal Deity 
in a ram. He at once believed it. It is God who exists in all beings. 

"A guru said to his disciple, 'It is Rama alone who resides in all bodies.' The disciple was a 
man of great faith. One day a dog snatched a piece of bread from him and started to run away. He 
ran after the dog, with a jar of butter in his hand, and cried again and again: '0 Rama, stand still a 
minute. That bread hasn't been buttered.' 

"What tremendous faith Krishnakishore had! He used to say, 'By chanting "Om Krishna, Om 
Rama", one gets the result of a million sandhyas.' Once he said to me secretly, 'I don't like the 
sandhya and other devotions any more; but don't tell anyone.' 

"Sometimes I too feel that way. The Mother reveals to me that She Herself has become 
everything. One day I was coming from the pine-grove toward the Panchavati. A dog followed me. 
I stood still for a while near the Panchavati. The thought came to my mind that the Mother might 
say something to me through that dog. 

"You were absolutely right when you said that through faith alone one achieves all." 

ISHAN: "But we are householders." 

MASTER: "What if you are? Through His grace even the impossible becomes possible. 
Ramprasad sang, 'This world is a mere framework of illusion.' Another man composed a song by 
way of reply: 

This very world is a mansion of mirth; Here I can eat, here drink and make merry. Janaka's 
might was unsurpassed; What did he lack of the world or the Spirit? Holding to one as well as the 
other, He drank his milk from a brimming cup! 

"One should first realize God through spiritual discipline in solitude, and then live in the 
world. Only then can one be a King Janaka. What can you achieve otherwise? 

"Further, take the case of Siva. He has everything-Kartika, Ganesa, Lakshmi, and Sarasvati. 
Still, sometimes He dances in a state of divine fervour, chanting the name of Rama, and sometimes 
He is absorbed in samadhi." 


Sunday, September 23, 1883 

SRI RAMAKRISHNA was sitting in his room at Dakshineswar with Rakhal , M., and other 
devotees. Hazra sat on the porch outside. The Master was conversing with the devotees. 

MASTER (to a devotee): "Narendra doesn't like even you, nowadays. (To M.) Why didn't he 
come to see me at Adhar's house? 


"How versatile Narendra is! He is gifted in singing, in playing on instruments, and in studies. 
He is independent and doesn't care about anybody. The other day he was returning to Calcutta 
with Captain in his carriage. Captain begged Narendra to sit beside him, but he took a seat 
opposite. He didn't even look at Captain. 

"What can a man achieve through mere scholarship? What is needed is prayer and spiritual 
discipline. Gauri of Indesh was both a scholar and a devotee. He was a worshipper of the Divine 
Mother. Now and then he would be overpowered with spiritual fervour. When he chanted a hymn 

to the Mother, the pundits would seem like earthworms beside him. I too would be overcome with 

"At first he was a bigoted worshipper of Sakti. He used to pick up tulsi leaves with a couple 
of sticks, so as not to touch them with his fingers. (All laugh.) Then he went home. When he came 
back he didn't behave that way any more. He gave remarkable interpretations of Hindu 
mythology. He would say that the ten heads of Ravana represented the ten organs. Kumbhakarna 
was the symbol, of tamas, Ravana of rajas, and Bibhishana of sattva. That was why Bibhishana 
obtained favour with Rama." 

After the Master's midday meal, while he was resting, Ram, Tarak, and some other 
devotees arrived from Calcutta. 

Nityagopal, Tarak, and several others were staying with Ram, a house-holder disciple of the 
Master. Nityagopal was always in an exalted spiritual mood. Tarak's mind, too, was always 
indrawn; he seldom exchanged words with others. Ram looked after their physical needs. Rakhal 
now and then spent a few days at Adhar's house. 

RAM (to the Master): "We have been taking lessons on the drum." 

MASTER (to Ram): "Nityagopal too?" 

RAM: "No, sir. He plays a little." 

MASTER: "And Tarak?" 

RAM: "He knows a good deal." 

MASTER: "Then he won't keep his eyes on the ground so much. If the mind is much directed 
to something else, it doesn't dwell deeply on God." 

RAM: "I have been studying the drum only to accompany the kirtan." 

MASTER (to M.): "I hear that you too are taking singing lessons. Is that so?" 

M: "No, sir. I just open my mouth now and then." 

MASTER: "Have you practised that song: '0 Mother, make me mad with Thy love'? If you 
have, please sing it. The song expresses my ideal perfectly." 

The conversation turned to Hazra's hatred for certain people, which Sri Ramakrishna did not 


MASTER (to the devotees): "I used frequently to visit a certain house at Kamarpukur. The 
boys of the family were of my age. The other day they came here and spent two or three days with 
me. Their mother, like Hazra, used to hate people. Then something happened to her foot, and 
gangrene set in. On account of the foul smell, no one could enter her room. I told the incident to 
Hazra and asked him not to hate anyone." 


Toward evening, as Sri Ramakrishna was standing in the northwest corner of the courtyard, 
he went into samadhi. In those days the Master remained almost always in an ecstatic state. He 
would lose consciousness of the world at the slightest suggestion from outside. But for scant 
conversation with visiting devotees, he remained in an indrawn mood and was unable to perform 
his daily worship and devotions. 

Coming down to the relative world, he began to talk to the Divine Mother, still standing 
where he was. "0 Mother," he said, "worship has left me, and japa also. Please see, Mother, that I 
do not become an inert thing. Let my attitude toward God be that of the servant toward the 
master. Mother, let me talk about Thee and chant Thy holy name. I want to sing Thy glories. 
Give me a little strength of body that I may move about, that I may go to places where Thy 
devotees live, and sing Thy name." 

In the morning Sri Ramakrishna had been to the Kali temple to offer flowers at the Mother's 


Continuing, the Master said: "0 Mother, I offered flowers at Thy feet this morning.thought: 
'That is good. My mind is again going back to formal worship.' Then why do I feel like this now? 
Why art Thou turning me into a sort of inert thing?" 

The moon had not yet risen. It was a dark night. The Master, still in an abstracted mood, sat 
on the small couch in his room and continued his talk with the Divine Mother. He said: "Why this 
special discipline of the Gayatri? Why this jumping from this roof to that? Who told him to do it? 
Perhaps he is doing it of his own accord. . . . Well, he will practise a little of that discipline." 

The previous day Sri Ramakrishna had discouraged Ishan about Vedic worship, saying that it 
was not suitable for the Kaliyuga. He had asked Ishan to worship God as the Divine Mother. 

The Master said to M., "Are these all my fancies, or are they real?" M. remained silent with 
wonder at the Master's intimate relationship with the Divine Mother. He thought She must be 
within us as well as without. Indeed She must be very near us; or why should the Master speak to 
Her in a whisper? 

Wednesday, September 26, 1883 

There were very few devotees with the Master, for most of them came on Sundays. Rakhal 
and Latu were living with him the greater part of the time. M. arrived in the afternoon and found 
the Master seated on the small couch. The conversation turned to Narendra. 

MASTER (to M.): "Have you seen Narendra lately? (With a smile) He said of me: 'He still 
goes to the Kali temple, But he will not when he truly understands.' His people are very much 
dissatisfied with him because he comes here now and then. The other day he came here in a hired 
carriage, and Surendra paid for it. Narendra's aunt almost had a row with Surendra about it." 

The Master left the couch and went to the northeast verandah, where Hazra, Kishori, 
Rakhal , and a few other devotees were sitting. 

MASTER (to M.): "How is it that you are here today? Have you no school?" 
M: "Our school closed today at half past one." 
MASTER: "Why so early?" 

M: "Vidyasagar visited the school. He owns the school. So the boys get a half holiday 
whenever he comes." 


MASTER: "Why doesn't Vidyasagar keep his word? 'If one who holds to truth and looks on 
woman as his mother does not realize God, then Tulsi is a liar.' If a man holds to truth he will 
certainly realize God. The other day Vidyasagar said he would come here and visit me. But he 
hasn't kept his word." 


"There is a big difference between a scholar and a holy man. The mind of a mere scholar is 
fixed on 'woman and gold', but the sadhu's mind is on the Lotus Feet of Hari. A scholar says one 
thing and does another. But it is quite a different matter with a sadhu. The words and actions of a 
man who has given his mind to the Lotus Feet of God are altogether different. In Benares I saw a 
young sannyasi who belonged to the sect of Nanak.. He was the same age as you. He used to refer 
to me as the 'loving monk'. His sect has a monastery in Benares. I was invited there one day. I 
found that the mohant was like a housewife. I asked him, 'What is the way?' 'For the Kaliyuga', he 
said, 'the path of devotion as enjoined by Narada.' He was reading a book. When the reading was 
over, he recited: 'Vishnu is in water, Vishnu is on land, Vishnu is on the mountain top; the whole 
world is pervaded by Vishnu.' At the end he said, 'Peace! Peace! Abiding Peace!' 


"One day he was reading the Gita. He was so strict about his monastic rules that he would 
not read a holy book looking at a worldly man. So he turned his face toward me and his back on 
Mathur, who was also present. It was this holy man who told me of Narada's path of devotion as 
suited to the people of the Kaliyuga." 

M: "Are not sadhus of his class followers of the Vedanta?" 

MASTER: "Yes, they are. But they also accept the path of devotion. The fact is that in the 
Kaliyuga one cannot wholly follow the path laid down in the Vedas. Once a man said to me that he 
would perform the Purascharana of the Gayatri. I said: 'Why don't you do that according to the 
Tantra? In the Kaliyuga the discipline of Tantra is very efficacious.' 

"It is extremely difficult to perform the rites enjoined in the Vedas. Further, at the present 
time people lead the life of slaves It is said that those who serve others for twelve years or so 
become slaves. They acquire the traits of those they serve. While serving their masters they 
acquire the rajas, the tamas, the spirit of violence, the love of luxury, and the other traits of their 

masters. Not only do they serve their masters, but they also enjoy a pension after their term of 
service is over. 


"Once a Vedantic monk came here. He used to dance at the sight of a cloud. He would go 
into an ecstasy of joy over a rain-storm. He would get very angry if, anyone went near him when 
he meditated. One day I came to him while he was meditating, and that made him very cross. He 
discriminated constantly, 'Brahman alone is real and the world is illusory.' Since the appearance of 
diversity is due to maya, he walked about with a prism from a chandelier in his hand. One sees 
different colours through the prism; in reality there is no such thing as colour. Likewise, nothing 
exists, in reality, except Brahman. But there is an appearance of the manifold because of maya, 
egoism. He would not look at an object more than once, lest he should be deluded by maya and 
attachment. He would discriminate, while taking his bath, at the sight of birds flying in the. sky. He 
knew grammar. He stayed here for three days. One day he heard the sound of a flute near the 
embankment and said that a man who had realized Brahman would go into samadhi at such a 

While talking about the monk, the Master showed his devotees the manners and 
movements of a paramahamsa: the gait of a child, face beaming with laughter, eyes swimming in 
joy, and body completely naked. Then he again took his seat on the small couch and poured out 
his soul-enthralling words. 

MASTER (to M.): "I learnt Vedanta from Nangta: 'Brahman alone is real; the world is 
illusory.' The magician performs his magic. He produces a mango-tree which even bears 
mangoes. But this is all sleight of hand. The magician alone is real." 

M: "It seems that the whole of life is a long sleep. This much I understand, that we are not 
seeing things rightly. We perceive the world with a mind by which we cannot comprehend even 
the nature of the sky. So how can our perceptions be correct?" 

MASTER: "There is another way of looking at it. We do not see the sky rightly. It looks as if 
the sky were touching the ground at the horizon. How can a man see correctly? His mind is 
delirious, like the mind of a typhoid patient." 

The Master sang in his sweet voice: 

What a delirious fever is this that I suffer from! Mother, Thy grace is my only cure. . . 
Continuing, the Master said: "Truly it is a state of delirium. Just see how worldly men quarrel 
among themselves. No one knows what they quarrel about. Oh, how they quarrel! 'May such and 
such a thing befall you!' How much shouting! How much abuse!" 

M: "I said to Kishori: The box is empty; there is nothing inside. But two men pull at it from 
either side, thinking the box contains money.' Well, the body alone is the cause of all this mischief, 
isn't it? The jnanis see all this and say to themselves, 'What a relief one feels when this pillow-case 
of the body drops off.'" 

The Master and M. went toward the Kali temple. 

MASTER: "Why should you say such things? This world may be a 'frame work of illusion', but 
it is also said that it is a 'mansion of mirth'. Let the body remain. One can also turn this world into a 
mansion of mirth." 

M: "But where is unbroken bliss in this world?" 

MASTER: "Yes, where is it?" 

Sri Ramakrishna stood in front of the shrine of Kali and prostrated himself before the Divine 
Mother. M. followed him. Then the Master sat on the lower floor in front of the shrine room, 
facing the blissful image, and leaned against a pillar of the natmandir. He wore a red-bordered 
cloth, part of which was on his shoulder and back. M. sat by his side. 

M: "Since there is no unbroken happiness in the world, why should one assume a body at 
all? I know that the body is meant only to reap the results of past action. But who knows what sort 
of action it is performing now? The unfortunate part is that we are being crushed." 

MASTER: "If a pea falls into filth, it grows into a pea-plant none the less." 

M: "But still there are the eight bonds." 

Divine grace removes bondage 

MASTER: "They are not eight bonds, but eight fetters. But what if they are? These fetters 
fall off in a moment, by the grace of God. Do you know what it is like? Suppose a room has been 
kept dark a thousand years. The moment a man brings a light into it, the darkness vanishes. Not 
little by little. Haven't you seen the magician's feat? He takes string with many knots, and ties one 
end to something, keeping the other in his hand. Then he shakes the string once or twice, and 
immediately all the knots come undone. But another man cannot untie the knots however he may 
try. All the knots of ignorance come undone in the twinkling of an eye, through the guru's grace. 

"Well, can you tell me why Keshab Sen has changed so much lately? He used to come here 
very often. He learnt here how to bow low before a holy man. One day I told him that one should 
not salute a holy man as he had been doing. Harish says rightly: 'All the cheques must be approved 
here. Only then will they be cashed in the bank.'" (Laughter.) 

M. listened to these words breathlessly. He began to realize that Satchidananda, in the form 
of the guru, passes the "cheque". 

MASTER: "Do not reason. Who can ever know God? I have heard it from Nangta, once for 
all, that this whole universe is only a fragment of Brahman. 

"Hazra is given to too much calculation. He says, 'This much of God has become the 
universe and this much is the balance.' My head aches at his calculations. I know that I know 
nothing. Sometimes I think of God as good, and sometimes as bad. What can I know of Him?" 

M: "It is true, sir. Can anyone ever know God? Each thinks, with his little bit of intelligence, 
that he has understood all of God. As you say, an ant went to a sugar hill and, finding that one 

grain of sugar filled its stomach, thought that the next time it would take the entire hill into its 


MASTER: "Who can ever know God? I don't even try. I only call on Him as Mother. Let 
Mother do whatever She likes. I shall know Her if it is Her will; but I shall be happy to remain 
ignorant if She wills otherwise. My nature is that of a kitten. It only cries, 'Mew, mew!' The rest it 
leaves to its mother. The mother cat puts the kitten sometimes in the kitchen and sometimes on 
the master's bed. The young child wants only his mother. He doesn't know how wealthy his 
mother is, and he doesn't even want to know. He knows only, 'I have a mother; why should I 
worry?' Even the child of the maidservant knows that he has a mother. If he quarrels with the son 
of the master, he says: 'I shall tell my mother. I have a mother.' My attitude, too, is that of a child." 

Suddenly Sri Ramakrishna caught M.'s attention and said, touching his own chest: "Well, 
there must be something here. Isn't that so?" 

M. looked wonderingly at the Master. He said to himself: "Does the Mother Herself dwell in 
the Master's heart? Is it the Divine Mother who has assumed this human body for the welfare of 

Sri Ramakrishna was praying to the Divine Mother: "0 Mother! Embodiment of Om! 
Mother, how many things people say about Thee! But I don't understand any of them. I don't 
know anything, Mother. I have taken refuge at Thy feet. I have sought protection in Thee. 
Mother, I pray only that I may have pure love for Thy Lotus Feet, love that seeks no return. And 
Mother, do not delude me with Thy world-bewitching maya. I seek Thy protection. I have taken 
refuge in Thee." 

The evening worship in the temples was over. Sri Ramakrishna was again seated in his room 
with M. 

M. had been visiting the Master for the past two years and, had received his grace and 
blessings. He had been told that God was both with form and without form, that He assumed 
forms for the sake of His devotees. To the worshipper of the formless God, the Master said: "Hold 
to your conviction, but remember that all is possible with God. He has form, and again, He is 
formless. He can be many things more." 

MASTER (to M.): "You have accepted an ideal, that of God without form-isn't that so?" 

M: "Yes, sir. But I also believe what you say-that all is possible with God. It is quite possible 
for God to have forms. 

MASTER: "Good. Remember further that, as Consciousness, He pervades the entire universe 
of the living and non-living." 

M: "I think of Him as the consciousness in conscious beings." 

MASTER: "Stick to that ideal now. There is no need of tearing down and changing one's 
attitude. You will gradually come to realize that the consciousness in conscious beings is the 
Consciousness of God. He alone is Consciousness. 

"Let me ask you one thing. Do you feel attracted to money and treasures?" 

M: "No, sir. But I think of earning money in order to be free from anxiety, to be able to think 
of God without worry." 

MASTER: "Oh, that's perfectly natural." 

M: "Is it greed? I don't think so." 

MASTER: "You are right. Otherwise, who will look after your children? What will become of 
them if you feel that you are not the doer?" 

M: "I have heard that one cannot attain Knowledge as long as one has the consciousness of 
duty. Duty is like the scorching sun." 

MASTER: "Keep your present attitude. It will be different when the consciousness of duty 
drops away of itself." 

They remained silent a few minutes. 

M: "To enter the world after attaining partial knowledge! Why, it is like dying in full 
consciousness, as in cholera!" 

MASTER: "Oh, Ram! Ram!" 

The idea in M.'s mind was that just as a cholera patient feels excruciating pain at the time of 
death, because of retaining consciousness, so also a Jnani with partial knowledge must feel 
extremely miserable leading the life of the world, which he knows to be illusory. 

M: "People who are completely ignorant are like typhoid patients, who remain unconscious 
at the time of death and so do not feel the pain." 

MASTER: "Tell me, what does one attain through money? Jaygopal Sen is such a wealthy 
man; but he complains that his children don't obey him." 

M: "Is poverty the only painful thing in the world? There are the six passions besides. Then 
disease and grief." 

MASTER: "And also name and fame, the desire to win people's recognition. Well, what do 
you think my attitude is?" 

M: "It is like that of a man just awakened from sleep. He becomes aware of himself. You are 
always united with God." 

MASTER: "Do you ever dream of me?" 

M: "Yes, sir. Many times." 

MASTER: "How? Did you dream of me as giving you instruction?" 
M. remained silent. 

MASTER: "If you ever see me instructing you, then know that it is Satchidananda Himself 
that does so." 

M. related his dream experiences to Sri Ramakrishna, who listened to them attentively. 
MASTER (to M.): "That is very good. Don't reason any more. You are a follower of Sakti." 
Wednesday, October 10, 1883 


Adhar had invited the Master to come to his house on the occasion of the Durga Puja 
festival. It was the third day of the worship of the Divine Mother. When Sri Ramakrishna arrived at 
Adhar's house, he found Adhar's friend Sarada, Balaram's father, and Adhar's neighbours and 
relatives waiting for him. 

The Master went into the worship hall to see the evening worship. When it was over, he 
remained standing there in an abstracted mood and sang in praise of the Divine Mother: 

Glories of the Divine Mother Out of my deep affliction rescue me, Redeemer! 

Terrified by the threats of the King of Death am I! Left to myself, I shall perish soon; Save 
me, oh, save me now, I pray! Mother of all the worlds! Thou, the Support of mankind! Thou, the 
Bewitcher of all, the Mother of all that has life! Vrindavan's charming Radha art Thou, Dearest 
playmate of Braja's Beloved. Blissful comrade of Krishna, well-spring of Krishna's lila, Child of 
Himalaya, best of the gopis, beloved of Govinda! Sacred Ganga, Giver of moksha! Sakti! The 
universe sings Thy praise. Thou art the Spouse of Siva, the Ever-blessed, the All; Sometimes Thou 
takest form and sometimes art absolute. Eternal Beloved of Mahadeva, Who can fathom Thine 
infinite glories? 

The Master went to Adhar's drawing-room on the second floor and took a seat, surrounded 
by the guests. Still in a mood of divine fervour, he said: "Gentlemen, I have eaten. Now go and 
enjoy the feast." Was the Master hinting that the Divine Mother had partaken of Adhar's offering? 
Did he identify himself with the Divine Mother and therefore say, "I have eaten"? 

Then, addressing the Divine Mother, he continued: "Shall I eat, Mother? Or will You eat? 
Mother, the very Embodiment of the Wine of Divine Bliss!" Did the Master look on himself as 
one with the Divine Mother? Had the Mother incarnated Herself as the Son to instruct mankind in 
the ways of God? Was this why the Master said, "I have eaten"? 

In that state of divine ecstasy Sri Ramakrishna saw the six centres in his body, and the 
Divine Mother dwelling in them. He sang a song to that effect. 

Again he sang: 

My mind is overwhelmed with wonder, pondering the Mother's mystery; Her very name 
removes The fear of Kala, Death himself; Beneath Her feet lies Maha-Kala. 

Why should Her hue be kala, black? Many the forms of black, but She Appears astoundingly 
black; when contemplated in the heart, She lights the lotus that blossoms there. 

Her form is black, and She is named Kali, the Black One. Blacker than black Is She! Beholding 
Her, Man is bewitched for evermore; No other form can he enjoy. 

In wonderment asks Ramprasad: Where dwells this Woman so amazing? At Her mere name, 
his mind becomes at once absorbed in Her, Though he has never yet beheld Her. 

The fear of the devotees flies away if they but seek shelter at the feet of the Divine Mother. 
Was that why the Master sang the following song?: 

I have surrendered my soul at the fearless feet of the Mother; Am I afraid of Death any 
more? Unto the tuft of hair on my head Is tied the almighty mantra, Mother Kali's name. My body I 
have sold in the market-place of the world And with it have bought Sri Durga's name. Deep within 
my heart I have planted the name of Kali, The Wish-fulfilling Tree of heaven; When Yama, King of 
Death, appears, To him I shall open my heart and show it growing there. I have cast out from me 
my six unflagging foes; 

Ready am I to sail life's sea, Crying, "To Durga, victory!" 

Sarada was stricken with grief on account of his son's death. So Adhar had taken him to 
Dakshineswar to visit the Master. Sarada was a devotee of Sri Chaitanya. Sri Ramakrishna looked 
at him and was inspired with the ideal of Gauranga. 

He sang: 

Why has My body turned so golden? It is not time for this to be: Many the ages that must 
pass, before as Gauranga I appear. Here in the age of Dwapara My sport is not yet at an end; How 
strange this transformation is! The peacock glistens, all of gold; arid golden, too, the cuckoo 
gleams! Everything around Me here has turned to gold! Naught else appears But gold, whichever 
way I look. What can it mean, this miracle, that everything I see is gold? 

Ah, I can guess its meaning now: 

Radha has come to Mathura, and that is why My skin is gold. For she is like the bhramara, 
and so has given Me her hue. Dark blue My body was but now; yet in the twinkling of an eye It 
turned to gold. Have I become Radha by contemplating her? 

I cannot imagine where I am-in Mathura or Navadvip. But how could this have come to 
pass? Not yet is Balarama born as Nitai, nor has Narada Become Srivas, nor Yasoda as Mother 
Sachi yet returned. Then why should I, among them all, alone assume a golden face? Not yet is 
Father Nanda born as Jagannath; then why should I Be thus transmuted into gold? Perhaps 
because in Mathura sweet Radha has appeared, My skin Has borrowed Gauranga's golden hue. 

Sri Ramakrishna sang again, still overpowered with the ideal of Gauranga: 

Surely Gauranga is lost in a state of blissful ecstasy; in an exuberance of joy, he laughs and 
weeps and dances and sings. He takes a wood for Vrindavan, the Ganges for the blue Jamuna; 
Loudly he sobs and weeps. Yet, though he is all gold without, He is all black within-black with the 
blackness of Krishna! 

The Master continued to sing, assuming the attitude of a woman devotee infatuated with 
love for Gauranga: 

Why do my neighbours raise such a scandal? Why do they cast aspersions upon me simply 
because of Gauranga? How can they understand my feelings? How can I ever explain? Can I ever 
explain at all? Alas, to whom shall I explain it? Ah, but they make me die of shame! Once on a time, 
at the house of Srivas, Gora was loudly singing the kirtan, when, on the ground of the courtyard, 
falling, he rolled in an ecstasy. I, who was standing near him, seeing him where he lay entranced 
was suddenly lost to outward sense until the wife of Srivas revived me. 

Another day, in the bhaktas' procession, 

Gora was sweetly singing the kirtan; clasping the outcastes to him, He softened the 
unbelievers' hearts. Through Nadia's market-place He chanted Lord Hari's holy name. I followed 
the throng, and from close by Caught a glimpse of his golden feet. 

Once by the Ganges' bank he stood, His body bright as the sun and moon Charming all with 
his beauty. I too had come, to fetch some water, and, as I looked from one side, my water-jar 
slipped and fell to the ground. My sister-in-law, the gossip, saw me, and now she is spreading it 

Balaram's father was a Vaishnava; hence the Master also sang of the divine love of the gopis 
for their beloved Krishna: 

I have not found my Krishna, friend! How cheerless my home without Him! Ah, if Krishna 
could only be the hair upon my head, carefully I should braid it then, and deck it with 

Carefully I should fashion the braids out of my Krishna-hair. Krishna is black, and black is my 
hair; black would be one with black! Ah, if Krishna could only be the ring I wear in my nose, always 
from my nose He would hang, and my two lips could touch Him. But it can never be, alas! Why 
should I idly dream? Why should Krishna care at all to be the ring in my nose? 

Ah, if Krishna could only be the bracelets on my arms, Always He would cling to my wrists, 
and proudly I should walk, Shaking my bracelets to make them sound, shaking my arms to show 
them; Down the king's highway I should walk, wearing my Krishna-bracelets. 

Balaram's father was a wealthy man with estates in different parts of Orissa. An orthodox 
member of the Vaishnava sect, he had built temples and arranged for distribution of food to the 
pilgrims at various holy places. He had been spending the last years of his life in Vrindavan. The 
Vaishnavas, for the most part, are bigoted in their religious views. Some of them harbour malicious 
feelings toward the followers of the Tantra and Vedanta. But Sri Ramakrishna never encouraged 
such a narrow outlook. According to his teachings, through earnestness and yearning all lovers of 

God will ultimately reach the same goal. The Master began the conversation in order to broaden 
the religious views of Balaram's father. 

Master's harmony of religions 

MASTER (to M.): "Once I thought, 'Why should I be one-sided?' Therefore I was initiated 
into Vaishnavism in Vrindavan and took the garb of a Vaishnava monk. I spent three days 
practising the Vaishnava discipline. Again, at Dakshineswar I was initiated into the mystery of 
Rama worship. I painted my forehead with a long mark and put on a string with a diamond round 
my neck. But after a few days I gave them up. 

"A certain man had a tub. People would come to him to have their clothes dyed. The tub 
contained a solution of dye. Whatever colour a man wanted for his cloth, he would get by dipping 
the cloth in the tub. One man was amazed to see this and said to the dyer, 'Please give me the dye 
you have in your tub.' " 

Was the Master hinting that people professing different religions would come to him and 
have their spiritual consciousness awakened according to their own ideals? 

MASTER (to Balaram's father): "Don't read books any more. But you may read books on 
devotion, such as the life of Chaitanya. 

"The whole thing is to love God and taste His sweetness. He is sweetness and the devotee is 
its enjoyer. The devotee drinks the sweet Bliss of God. Further, God is the lotus and the devotee 
the bee. The devotee sips the honey of the lotus. 

"As a devotee cannot live without God, so also God cannot live without His devotee. Then 
the devotee becomes the sweetness, and God its enjoyer. The devotee becomes the lotus, and 
God the bee. It is the Godhead that has become these two in order to enjoy Its own Bliss. That is 
the significance of the episode of Radha and Krishna. 

"At the beginning of spiritual life the devotee should observe such rites as pilgrimage, 
putting a string of beads around his neck, and so forth. But outward ceremonies gradually drop off 
as he attains the goal, the vision of God. Then his only activity is the repetition of God's name, and 
contemplation and meditation on Him. 

"The pennies equivalent to sixteen rupees make a great heap. But sixteen silver coins do not 
look like such a big amount. Again, the quantity becomes much smaller when you change the 
sixteen rupees into one gold mohur. And if you change the gold into a tiny piece of diamond, 
people hardly notice it." 

Orthodox Vaishnavas insist on the outer insignia of religion. They criticize any devotee who 
does not wear these marks. Was that why the Master said that, after the vision of God, a devotee 
becomes indifferent to outer marks, giving up formal worship when the goal of spiritual life is 

MASTER (to Balaram's father): "The Kartabhajas group the devotees into four classes: the 
pravartaka, the sadhaka, the siddha, and the siddha of the siddha. The pravartaka, the beginner, 

puts the mark of his religion on his forehead, wears a string of beads around his neck, and 
observes other outer conventions. The sadhaka, the struggling devotee, does not care so much for 
elaborate rites. An example of this class is the Baul. The siddha, the perfect, firmly believes that 
God exists. The siddha of the siddha, the supremely perfect, like Chaitanya, not only has realized 
God but also has become intimate with Him and talks with Him all the time. This is the last limit of 


"There are many kinds of spiritual aspirants. Those endowed with sattva perform their 
spiritual practices secretly. They look like ordinary people, but they meditate inside the mosquito 

"Aspirants endowed with rajas exhibit outward pomp-a string of beads around the neck, a 
mark on the forehead, an ochre robe, a silk cloth, a rosary with a gold bead, and so on. They are 
like stall-keepers advertising their wares with signboards. 

"All religions and all paths call upon their followers to pray to one and the same God. 
Therefore one should not show disrespect to any religion or religious opinion. It is God alone who 
is called Satchidananda Brahman in the Vedas, Satchidananda Krishna in the Puranas, and 
Satchidananda Siva in the Tantras. It is one and the same Satchidananda. 

"There are different sects of Vaishnavas. That which is called Brahman in the Vedas is called 
Alekh-Niranjan by one Vaishnava sect. 'Alekh' means That which cannot be pointed out or 
perceived by the sense-organs. According to this sect, Radha and Krishna are only two bubbles of 
the Alekh. 

"According to the Vedanta, there is no Incarnation of God. The Vedantists say that Rama 
and Krishna are but two waves in the Ocean of Satchidananda. 

"In reality there are not two. There is only One. A man may call on God by any name; if he is 
sincere in his prayer he will certainly reach Him. He will succeed if he has longing." 

As Sri Ramakrishna spoke these words to the devotees, he was overwhelmed with divine 
fervour. Coming down to partial consciousness of the world, he said to Balaram's father, "Are you 
the father of Balaram?" 

All sat in silence. Balaram's aged father was silently telling his beads. 


MASTER (to M. and the others): "Well, these people practise so much japa and go to so 
many sacred places, but why are they like this? Why, do they make no progress? In their case it 
seems as if the year consists of eighteen months. 

"Once I said to Harish: 'What is the use of going to Benares if one does not feel restless for 
God? And if one feels that longing, then this very place is Benares.' 

"They make so many pilgrimages and repeat the name of God so much, but why do they not 
realize anything? It is because they have no longing for God. God reveals Himself to the devotee if 
only he calls upon Him with a longing heart. 

"At the beginning of a yatra performance much light-hearted restlessness is to be observed 
on the stage. At that time one does not see Krishna. Next the sage Narada enters with his flute and 
sings longingly, '0 Govinda! my Life! my Soul!' Then Krishna can no longer remain away and 
appears with the cowherd boys." 

Tuesday, October 16, 1883 

Sri Ramakrishna was in his room with Rakhal , Balaram's father, Beni Pal, M., Mani Mallick, 
Ishan, Kishori, and other devotees. 

MASTER: "Liberal-minded devotees accept all the forms of God: Krishna, Kali, Siva, Rama, 
and so on." 

BALARAM'S FATHER: "Yes, sir. It is like a woman's recognizing her husband, whatever 
clothes he wears." 

Unwavering devotion to God 

MASTER: "But again, there is a thing called nishtha, single-minded devotion. When the gopis 
went to Mathura they saw Krishna with a turban on His head. At this they pulled down their veils 
and said, 'Who is this man? Where is our Krishna with the peacock feather on His crest and the 
yellow cloth on His body?' Hanuman also had that unswerving devotion. He came to Dwaraka in 
the cycle of Dwapara. Krishna said to Rukmini, His queen, 'Hanuman will not be satisfied unless he 
sees the form of Rama.' so, to please Hanuman, Krishna assumed the form of Rama. 

"But, my dear sir, I am in a peculiar state of mind. My mind constantly descends from the 
Absolute to the Relative, and again ascends from the Relative to the Absolute. 

"The attainment of the Absolute is called the Knowledge of Brahman. But it is extremely 
difficult to acquire. A man cannot acquire the Knowledge of Brahman unless he completely rids 
himself of his attachment to the world. When the Divine Mother was born as the daughter of King 
Himalaya, She showed Her various forms to Her father. The king said, 'I want to see Brahman.' 
Thereupon the Divine Mother said: 'Father, if that is your desire, then you must seek the company 
of holy men. You must go into solitude, away from the world, and now and then live in holy 


"The manifold has come from the One alone, the Relative from the Absolute. There is a 
state of consciousness where the many disappears, and the One, as well; for the many must exist 
as long as the One exists. Brahman is without comparison. It is impossible to explain Brahman by 
analogy. It is between light and darkness. It is Light, but not the light that we perceive, not material 

"Again, when God changes the state of my mind, when He brings my mind down to the 
plane of the Relative, I perceive that it is He who has become all these-the Creator, maya, the 
living beings, and the universe. 

"Again, sometimes He shows me that He has created the universe and all living beings. He is 
the Master, and the universe His garden. 


'"He is the Master, and the universe and all its living beings belong to Him'-that is 
Knowledge. And, 'I am the doer', 'I am the guru', 'I am the father'-that is ignorance. 'This is my 
house; this is my family; this is my wealth; these are my relatives'-this also is ignorance." 

BALARAM'S FATHER: "That is true, sir." 

MASTER: "As long as you do not feel that God is the Master, you must come back to the 
world, you must be born again and again. There will be no rebirth when you can truly say, '0 God, 
Thou art the Master.' As long as you cannot say, '0 Lord, Thou alone art real', you will not be 
released from the life of the world. This going and coming, this rebirth, is inevitable. There will be 
no liberation. Further, what can you achieve by saying, 'It is mine'? The manager of an estate may 
say, 'This is our garden; these are our couches and furniture.' But when he is dismissed by the 
master, he hasn't the right to take away even a chest of worthless mango-wood given to him for 
his use. 

"The feeling of 'I and mine' has covered the Reality. Because of this we do not see Truth. 
Attainment of Chaitanya, Divine Consciousness, is not possible without the knowledge of Advaita, 
Non-duality. After realizing Chaitanya one enjoys Nityananda, Eternal Bliss. One enjoys this Bliss 
after attaining the state of a paramahamsa. 

"Vedanta does not recognize the Incarnation of God. According to it, Chaitanyadeva is only 
a bubble of the non-dual Brahman. 

"Do you know what the vision of Divine Consciousness is like? It is like the sudden 
illumination of a dark room when a match is struck. 

"The Incarnation of God is accepted by those who follow the path of bhakti. A woman 
belonging to the Kartabhaja sect observed my condition, and remarked: 'You have inner 
realization. Don't dance and sing too much. Ripe grapes must be preserved carefully in cotton. The 
mother-in-law lessens her daughter-in-law's activities when the daughterin-law is with child. One 
characteristic of God-realization is that the activities of a man with such realization gradually drop 
away. Inside this man [meaning Sri Ramakrishna] is the real Jewel.' 

"Watching me eat, she remarked, 'Sir, are you yourself eating, or are you feeding someone 


"The feeling of ego has covered the Truth. Narendra once said, 'As the "I" of man recedes, 
the "I" of God approaches.' Kedar says, 'The more clay there is in the jar, the less water it holds.' 

"Krishna said to Arjuna: 'Brother, you will not realize Me if you possess even one of the 
eight siddhis.' These give only a little power. With healing and the like one may do only a little 
good to others. Isn't that true? 

"Therefore I prayed to the Divine Mother for pure love only, a love that does not seek any 
return. I never, asked for occult powers." 

While talking thus, Sri Ramakrishna went into samadhi. He sat there motionless, completely 
forgetful of the outer world. Then, coming down to the sense world, he sang: 

Ah, friend! I have not found Him yet, whose love has driven me mad. . . . 

At the Master's request, Ramlal sang a song describing how Chaitanya embraced the 
monastic life: 

Oh, what a vision I have beheld in Keshab Bharati's hut! Gora, in all his matchless grace, 
Shedding tears in a thousand streams! 

Like a mad elephant He dances in ecstasy and sings, Drunk with an overwhelming love. 

Rolling flat upon the ground and swimming in his tears, He weeps and shouts Lord Hari's 
name, Piercing the very heavens with his cries, Loud as a lion's roar; Then most humbly he begs 
men's love, To feel himself the servant of Cod. 

Shorn of his locks, he has put on the yogi's ochre robe; Even the hardest heart must melt to 
see his pure and heavenly love. Smitten by man's deep woe, He has abandoned everything and 
pours out love unstintingly. 

Oh, would that Premdas were his slave and, passing from door to door, Might sing 
Gauranga's endless praise! 

The Master asked Mani Mallick to quote the words of Tulsidas to the effect that one who 
had developed love of God could not observe caste distinctions. 

MANI: "The throat of the chatak bird is pierced with thirst. All around are the waters of the 
Ganges, the Jamuna, the Saraju, and of innumerable other rivers and lakes; but the bird will not 
touch any of these. It only looks up expectantly for the rain that falls when the star Svati is in the 

MASTER: "That means that love for the Lotus Feet of God is alone real, and all else illusory." 

MANI: "Tulsi also said: 'At the touch of the philosopher's stone, the eight metals become 
gold. Likewise all castes, even the butcher and the untouchable, become pure by repeating Hari's 
name. Without Hari's name the people of the four castes are but butchers.'" 

MASTER: "The hide that the scriptures forbid one to touch can be taken inside the temple 
after it has been tanned. 


"Man becomes pure by repeating the name of God. Therefore one should practise the 
chanting of God's name. I said to Jadu Mallick's mother: 'In the hour of death you will think only of 
worldly things-of family, children, executing the will, and so forth. The thought of God will not 
come to your mind. The way to remember God in the hour of death is to practise, now, the 
repetition of His name and the chanting of His glories. If one keeps up this practice, then in the 
hour of death one will repeat the name of God. When the cat pounces upon the bird, the bird only 
squawks and does not say, 'Rama, Rama, Hare-Krishna'. 

"It is good to prepare for death. One should constantly think of God and chant His name in 
solitude during the last years of one's life. If the elephant is put into the stable after its bath it is 
not soiled again by dirt and dust." 

Balaram's father, Mani Mallick, and Beni Pal were all elderly men. Did the Master give this 
instruction especially for their benefit? 

MASTER: "Why do I ask you to think of God and chant His name in solitude? Living in the 
world day and night, one suffers from worries. Haven't you noticed brother killing brother for a 
foot of land? The Sikhs said to me, 'the cause of all worry and confusion is these three: land, 
woman, and money.' 

"You are leading a householder's life. Why should you be afraid of the world? When Rama 
said to Dasaratha that He was going to renounce the world, it worried His father, and the king 
sought counsel of Vasishtha. Vasishtha said to Rama: 'Rama, why should You give up the world? 
Reason with me; is this world outside God? What is there to renounce and what is there to accept? 
Nothing whatever exists but God. It is Brahman alone that appears as Isvara, maya, living beings, 
and the universe.' " 

BALARAM'S FATHER: "It is very difficult, sir." 

MASTER: "The aspirant, while practi